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Table 3 Employee interviews from the intervention site at baseline

From: Mixed methods evaluation of an employer-led, free lunch initiative in Northern Ireland

Pre-intervention interviews
Key-themesSub-themes 
Healthy eating & HealthInfluenced by family members‘Probably since I’ve had my son, my priority has changed to seeing that he’s ok then if I’m ok and then I had an ill partner as well so he required a lot of attention. So a lot of the time it was just grabbing things on the go you know it was too much time to sit down and cook a meal […].’ Female
Basic understanding‘Yeh, ehm, well I think the salt can actually clock up your arteries and well fat it makes your heart work harder and you know things like that.’ Female
Desire to get a better understanding‘Oh, I’d love to learn you know a wee bit more stuff like that there you know […] eat the right stuff you know years ago they used to say ‘a brandy at night and you’ll be alright. You know or you go to these Chinese shops these tablets here vitamins take one a day, olive oil or whatever, stuff like there that but then nobody has ever come back and said you know they are good for you are they’re not good for you.’ Male
Influenced by social gatherings‘[…] I would go to a lot of football matches and we go to football games and you know it’s all […] chip vans and they’re not healthy you know they’re in front of you and you feel hungry what do you do?’ Male
Current lunch practicePacked lunches (sandwiches or takeaway meals)‘[…] my wife she prepares it. What way do I put it? I try not to – whenever she’s making sandwiches you know it’s not white bread, its wholemeal bread. […]Because she knows I am conscious of what I should eat.’ Male
 Food choice influenced by convenience, (limited) availability, (short) break time, flavour‘They only give you, you come in at eight o’clock and you get half hour. You get one half hour for that whole day […] and the half hour you spent trying to get as much in to you, to do you until you get home that night.’ Female
Cost is no issue‘[…] if you go to the fridge and readymade meals you know for example beef curry and rice and then there’s sitting beside beef curry a rice low fat, I pick the low fat one you know I would do that and this costs more it’s actually maybe twice the price believe it or not.’ Male
Lunch EnvironmentCold lunch room, especially in winter‘The canteen like I say it would be nice for, to have a bit of comfort to enjoy, try and enjoy your dinner but if you don’t have heating and you have hard plastic cold seats to sit on ehm, it’s not nice especially if you only get one break in a day.’ Male
Not very inviting
Limited facilities‘There’s ten people going in – half an hour and there’s two microwaves. Ten people to get through in half an hour and a microwave maybe two minutes time you can’t even do that.’ Male
‘[…] there should be more meals in work […] I sometimes I bring my own meals and sometimes but often just revert to sandwiches you know but its not very healthy like even sandwiches every day cause then you’re - you’re working and you’re hungry again after that and tend to you know maybe go for a sweet bar or something like that from the machine stuff cause you feel a wee bit sugarish coming on […].’ Male
Lack of healthy options due to location
Vending machines are a temptation
Company’s ResponsibilityLunches are not the responsibility of the employer (some agree/ some disagree)‘Yes of course, because I mean it gets promotion in the schools and so forth so why not in the workplace to keep it going.’ Female
‘I don’t think they’re responsible for it you know cause everybody sort of can eat what they want but you know it certainly doesn’t do anyone any harm trying to maybe change people’s mind-sets on what’s healthy and what’s not.’ Male
Concerns about Food CourtNot enough supply (last people go hungry) Healthiness of the food‘I think there are worries that the last one in the queue won’t get anything and maybe they have possibly nothing else with them so you don’t want anyone not to have any lunch so I think it just needs to be put in place to ensure that there is enough food for everyone.’ Female
‘[…] if they’re thinking of bringing food in you don’t know whether it’s been processed and stuff like that you know you would like to see it you know a canteen is fresh, they do fresh stuff there they cook it there and then they don’t have you know processed food and stuff like that. Processed foods contain a lot of additives you know and it’s not healthy you know.’ Male
Suggestions for food courtLight lunch‘It’s a lighter lunch that we should be having because when people are working hard all day and they go home in the evenings their dinner is their main meal […].’ Female
Seasonality important (hot food in winter, lighter foods in summer)‘I think it has to be seasonal you know I have salads throughout the summer but coming to the cooler weather I want something warm.’ Female
Variety of different foods‘[…] the food would need to be a different variety. It can’t be the same food all the time.’ Female
Healthy snacks‘Maybe if there was fruit, like a fruit machine. […] it’s just not readily available and it’s, I don’t want to go to the shop and get a banana.’ Male
Hygiene (messy and unappealing)‘[…] if it was like a buffet thing – they would eat all round them and pick through it and get on and that would turn an awful lot of people of […].’ Female
Not meeting everyone’s taste‘Well if there was food provided then again you know its hard catering for a lot of different tastes.’ Male
Learning from interventionLearn about healthy eating‘[…] everybody sort of can eat what they want but you know it certainly doesn’t do anyone any harm trying to maybe change people’s mindsets on what’s healthy and what’s not. To be honest we – you know people don’t really know what they’re eating. You don’t know what’s good for you and what’s bad for you – you know we haven’t been sort of educated so that’s why I was keen for this too – maybe I learn something it’ll be a benefit to me.’ Male
Improve eating habits as result