Characterizing and Assessing the Quality of State K–12 Share Table Policies as a Potential Mechanism to Reduce Food Waste and Promote Food Security

Melissa Pflugh Prescott, Alicia Grove, Marisa Bunning, Leslie Cunningham-Sabo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To identify the prevalence of state-level share table policies, assess the quality of available policies, and determine common policy characteristics. Design: In this qualitative policy analysis, state-level share table policies and resources were collected from March to June, 2018 from the State Department of Education Child Nutrition Office Web sites and/or staff communication across 50 states and Washington, DC. Variables Measured: Frequency of state-level policy documents assessed, as well as the allowable share table items, marketing and outreach guidance, and requirements for health code clearance, critical limits, monitoring, corrective actions, record keeping, redistribution plans, and allergy considerations. Analysis: After a deductive analysis approach, each collected policy document was scored on 10 a priori components primarily derived from existing food safety policies. Descriptive statistics were used to present common policy characteristics. Results: About half of the US (n = 27) had a state-level share table policy document. Most states with a policy document (81%; n = 22) allowed unused share table items to be redistributed through reservice, food donation, or use as a cooked ingredient in future meals. Few states provided adequate guidance on monitoring, corrective actions, record keeping, allergy considerations, and best practices for share table marketing and outreach. Conclusions and Implications: The high prevalence of state share table guidance suggests that this is a common food recovery strategy. Yet, states differed in allowable share table items and on permitted future use of share table items.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • food recovery
  • plate waste
  • school nutrition
  • share table
  • waste diversion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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