A comparison of foodservice employees' and students' perceptions of satisfaction with school foodservice programs

Yvette Marie LeGros LeBlanc


This study examines relationships between quality of service school foodservice (SFS) employees think students receive and quality of service as reported by students and to determine if this association correlates with rate of participation. Participants were SFS employees solicited from 41-middle/junior high schools contracted with the Foodservice Analysis and Benchmarking Service for the analysis of the National Foodservice Management Institute, Applied Research Division's Middle/Junior High School Foodservice Survey during the 1999-2000 school year. Of the 270 SFS employee surveys mailed to 41 schools, 240 surveys were returned from 37 schools, a return rate of 88%. Two hundred nine usable SFS employee surveys and 8,580 student surveys from 34 schools in South Dakota, Texas, California, Louisiana, Georgia, Michigan, and Virginia were used in the data analysis. This between-groups study applied the Student's t -test at a confidence level of p < .05, linear correlations, and multiple regression analysis to test relationships. The SFS employees in this population were predominately female, ages ranging from 30-49 (51%), who completed high school. The most common tasks performed by this group were food preparation, cafeteria server, and dishwasher. When comparing SFS employees' to students' mean scores for overall satisfaction with their SFS and nutrition programs, statistical significance was found in 12 of the reporting schools and no difference in 17 schools. The researcher performed a comparison of average employees' and students' ratings in a matched design with the unit of analysis being school to school. Across all schools, SFS employees' satisfaction means were significantly higher (M = 4.61 SD = 1.11, p < .01) than students' means ( M = 3.83, SD = .62). The 34 schools' employees' mean scores for service factors labeled, Food Quality, Ambiance, and Staff were significantly higher than the students' means. The study reports significant correlations for students' perceptions of the service factors to overall satisfaction and factors Ambiance and Staff to rate of participation. Employees' responses to how they thought the students would rate Food Quality did significantly correlate to how they thought students rate Staff. This study did not find that psychological closeness exists between SFS employees and students as proposed by the boundary spanner theory.