Background: The establishment of staff canteens is expected to improve the nutritional situation of Cambodian garment workers. The objective of this study is to assess the nutritive value of low-price model lunch sets provided at a garment factory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Methods: Exemplary lunch sets were served to female workers through a temporary canteen at a garment factory in Phnom Penh. Dish samples were collected repeatedly to examine mean serving sizes of individual ingredients. Food composition tables and NutriSurvey software were used to assess mean amounts and contributions to recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) or adequate intake of energy, macronutrients, dietary fiber, vitamin C (VitC), iron, vitamin A (VitA), folate and vitamin B12 (VitB12). Results: On average, lunch sets provided roughly one third of RDA or adequate intake of energy, carbohydrates, fat and dietary fiber. Contribution to RDA of protein was high (46% RDA). The sets contained a high mean share of VitC (159% RDA), VitA (66% RDA), and folate (44% RDA), but were low in VitB12 (29% RDA) and iron (20% RDA). Conclusions: Overall, lunches satisfied recommendations of caloric content and macronutrient composition. Sets on average contained a beneficial amount of VitC, VitA and folate. Adjustments are needed for a higher iron content. Alternative iron-rich foods are expected to be better suited, compared to increasing portions of costly meat/fish components. Lunch provision at Cambodian garment factories holds the potential to improve food security of workers, approximately at costs of <1 USD/person/day at large scale. Data on quantitative total dietary intake as well as physical activity among workers are needed to further optimize the concept of staff canteens.
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