Understanding school lunches in Victorian primary or secondary schools

This project aims to examine the school food environment and current school lunch practices in Victorian schools to better understand the perceptions, enablers, barriers and perceived healthiness of school lunches.



The School Food and Nutrition Group in IPAN is conducting several studies into school food and nutrition education (FNE) and the school food environment both in Australia and Internationally.  A current research focus for the team is primary school lunches.

We have recently published some research which highlighted that parents report concerns over children not eating enough lunch due to the short amount of time given for lunch in Victorian schools. We would like to follow up these findings with a more in-depth study of school lunches in Victoria, ultimately trialling a small pilot of healthy, school provided lunches. We have also started examining the secondary school space and are keen to work with an interested student to investigate this are of concern

The aims of this PhD project may include some of the following:

  • Investigate the school food environment and current school lunch practices in Victorian secondary schools (If secondary school focussed)
  • Investigate stakeholders (teachers, principals, parents, Department of Education staff, school children) perceptions of the enablers and barriers to, and perceived healthiness of, healthy school lunches at primary/secondary school
  • Investigate stakeholders perceptions of the benefits and disadvantages to schools providing healthy school lunches at primary/secondary school
  • Design and implement a pilot school lunch program in a Victorian primary school and evaluate the program (If primary school focussed)

Investigations will include the conduct of qualitative and quantitative (survey) studies and potentially focus groups (to be determined to align with student’s interest/strengths and research needs). 

Applications are invited for a PhD student to work under the supervision of Dr Claire Margerison, Dr Alison Booth and Dr Janandani Nanayakkara in the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN).


Studies will be run in Victoria and applicants must be able to visit schools and school staff in schools in Victoria.

Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree with first class honours (or equivalent) in a relevant field. Interested students must meet Deakin University’s PhD entry requirements and be eligible to apply for an Australian Post Graduate Award or equivalent. The supervision team will work with suitably qualified applicants to apply for scholarship funding.

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