Evaluation of the Tasmanian School Lunch Pilot

The end of school lunch boxes? Evaluation of a School Lunch Pilot providing nutritious cooked lunches for Tasmanian students.

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

Every child deserves a nutritious lunch to help them grow and learn to their full potential. However, foods consumed at school are not consistent with the Australian Dietary Guidelines. During school hours, most 5-12 year old children consume too many discretionary foods (foods high in saturated fat, sugar, and/or salt and have little nutritional value) and few vegetables. Some children go to school with no lunch or money to buy food. To ensure all children have access to a healthy lunch, many countries around the world have a school lunch program where students sit together and eat a lunch prepared by the school. During 2020 we conducted a small pilot study in three schools, which found it was feasible to provide school lunches in Tasmanian schools and the lunches were highly valued by the school community. Following the promising results of that pilot, the Tasmanian State Government is funding a larger pilot study to extend the school lunch program to 30 schools over two years, commencing in 2022.

This PhD project will evaluate the school lunch program using a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods. The aims of the project are to:

  1. Determine the benefits and challenges of providing a school lunch program
  2. Identify the characteristics and processes that contribute to the successful implementation of a school lunch program
  3. Conduct an economic evaluation to determine the cost of providing a school lunch program and inform a sustainable funding model

The findings from this research will help inform the Tasmanian Government’s decision regarding the expansion of a school lunch program to all schools. As this is the first lunch program to be supported by an Australian state government, the outcomes may also influence national policy around school food provision.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Kylie Smith


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Must be able to obtain a Working with Vulnerable People Card (includes a police check)
  • Excellent communication skills

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Current driver’s licence
  • Background in health promotion, evaluation, nutrition, or economics.

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Kylie Smith, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including contact details of two referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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