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School foodservice employee and student perceptions of service quality : application of the boundary spanner theory

LeBlanc, Yvette, Meyer, Mary Kay
The Journal of child nutrition & management 2005 v.29 no.1
child nutrition, food quality, food service workers, human resources, middle school students, nutritionists, school food service, schools, surveys, t-test
Purpose/Objectives This study examines the relationships between the quality of service that school foodservice employees think students receive and the quality of service reported by students. Methods Surveys were collected from 8,580 Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Grade students and 209 school foodservice employees from 34 schools, nationwide. The unit of analysis was school to school due to the disparity of sample size for students and employees. This intra-group study compared means using student t-test values (p < 0.05), linear correlations, and multiple regression to test relationships. Results Differences were found in 12 of the 34 schools when mean scores of foodservice employees and students were compared for overall satisfaction in their school foodservice program. Across all schools, school foodservice employee satisfaction mean scores were higher than student mean scores. Additionally, the 34 employee mean scores for food quality, ambiance, and staff factors were higher than the student mean scores. Applications to Child Nutrition Professionals In regards to school foodservice employees and students, findings of this study do not support the Boundary Spanner Theory, which highlights the psychological relationships that occur in a service-client relationship. As a result, employee evaluations of the school foodservice programs should be cautiously used as a surrogate for student perceptions.