Aim: To summarise the views and suggestions of service providers and health professionals on issues related to the development of National Meal Guidelines.
Methods: A national online survey of meal service providers and health professionals in Australia was conducted. Potential participants were identified from previously conducted workshop consultations. Snowball sampling was used whereby participants were encouraged to share the survey link with relevant colleagues. De-identified data were collated and closed responses calculated based on the proportion of participants answering each question. Open-ended responses were systematically examined to identify common themes within the data.
Results: The 289 participants were mostly female (83%) and service providers (47%). Most participants described their services to be home-delivery (57%), sourcing meals from external providers (47%), were providing menu choice (59%), and were able to cater for special diets (95%). Participants felt that National Meal Guidelines would be beneficial in improving meal service provision and promoting consistency between organisations but were concerned that they may be impractical and costly. They also identified priority areas for inclusion in the guidelines including nutrition recommendations for customers, dietary modifications for special needs, menu variety/structure and considerations about meal types. Nourishing mid-meal snacks, food fortification and screening and monitoring of malnutrition are future considerations for service activities.
Conclusions: Future research should examine the uptake and satisfaction of service providers and health professionals with the National Meal Guidelines.