The study was carried out at the Mogale Child and Youth Care Centre (MCYCC) a privately run institution by Bosasa Operations in partnership with the Gauteng Provincial Departments of Social Development and Health and Social Welfare Department. The facility caters for boys in conflict with law aged 14–18 years, who have been legally placed in the facility as a place of safety by court order. It is expected that the findings and recommendations from this study will be useful in improving the food service standards for such institutions. At the time of this study there were 200 adolescents, 137 were awaiting trial, 55 on the diversion programmes and 8 were serving court sentence at the centre.
The cross sectional study evaluated the food service offered at the MCYCC to establish the nutritional adequacy of the food served. Both qualitative and quantitative research methods were used to collect and analyse data. Out of the 200, 144 answered the customer satisfaction questionnaire and 167 took the BMI test. Observations were done in the kitchen to determine the compliance level to the food and safety regulations.
The analytical results of the responses from the self-administered questionnaire on the customer service satisfaction generated by the SAS software revealed reliable results. The probability, (p-value) from the Chi-square (χ2) test showed that there was a significant difference in response the parameters tested including the overall satisfaction. Body Mass Index (BMI) calculations established different anthropometric patterns of which 1.3% adolescents were found to be obese, 28.2% were overweight, 57% had normal weight while 13.5% were found to be underweight. The Foodfinder 3 software used to evaluate the nutrient composition in a 2-week cycle menu revealed that in most cases both the macronutrients and micronutrients in the menus exceeded the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for the adolescent boys. Food safety and hygiene standards results showed that the unit is compliant with the required standards as it scored 86%; it was colour coded Silver and rated as very good.
All the parameters evaluated scored above average percentage rating the customer satisfaction level for the services offered at the MCYCC are as good. Both underweight and overweight adolescents exist among the adolescents at the centre. The weights from the sample food plates exceeded the RDA of the adolescent boys. The centre’s compliance to health and safety regulations was rated as very good. The authorities in the Gauteng Provincial Departments of Social Development and Health and Social Welfare and Bosasa operation management should make use of this evident information to further improve the food service standards for other such institutions.