Search

SNA Press Releases

Good Tasting and Good-For-You: Heading Back to School for Lunch

(110) Permanent link

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Erik Peterson
703-739-3900 ext 124
epeterson@schoolnutrition.org

Good Tasting and Good-For-You: Heading Back to School for Lunch

ALEXANDRIA, Va. August 21, 2006 – Picture this: a hot turkey and cheese sandwich on a whole wheat hoagie roll, with a raw vegetable medley, chilled pineapple, applesauce cake and cold, low fat milk. The turkey is lean, the cheese is reduced fat, and the entire meal cost $1.75. Where is this nutritious and delicious value meal being served? Right down the street in a school cafeteria. As students return back to school this month they’ll find high quality school lunches and breakfasts that meet federal nutritional standards and receive high marks on local student taste tests. And, as a new report from the School Nutrition Association found – students are more likely to find new school policies in place designed to create healthy school nutrition environments that promote lifelong positive eating and physical activity habits.

The School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) 2006 Back to School Trends Survey conducted July 19, 2006, at SNA’s Annual National Conference, found that over 71% of school districts have made “significant” efforts during the past two years to offer healthy meal choices through the National School Lunch Program. Over 63% of school nutrition directors surveyed also said their districts have made “significant” efforts to offer healthy a la carte choices in the past two years – up from just 38% in 2003. Over 61% of school districts also made “significant” efforts to offer healthy choices in school breakfasts. The most significant efforts in all categories are being made in the nation’s largest school districts.

The Trends Survey comes the month after school districts were to pass local wellness policies to comply with a requirement of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004. According to the Survey, a large majority (86.5%) of the districts report that they have passed a local wellness policy. An additional 8.8% say a policy has not yet passed, but is in development. Most (60.5%) of these wellness policies involve general or broad nutrition guidelines, with only one-third involving specific nutrition guidelines. Responses are generally consistent across district size and location segments. Earlier this month SNA released a summary of key characteristics of the local wellness policies passed by the nation’s top 100 school districts by enrollment.

Other findings from the survey are highlighted below.

  • Respondents were asked to describe the food policies that are in place in their district. Increasing the availability of healthier beverages in vending machines was the most popular response (74.7%.) Other policies in place among a majority of districts include limiting the fat content of a la carte or vending items (67.1%), limiting the hours of operation/availability of vending machines (64.1%), increasing the availability of fresh fruits/vegetables on a la carte lines and/or vending machines (62.9%), and offering vegetarian options (42.9%). These represent increases over the finding in the 2005 survey report.
  • Also of note, the percentage of school districts that reported having a policy that removes carbonated beverages from vending machines is up to 38.2% from 18.1% last year.
  • A total of 131 school nutrition directors (77%) provided specific examples of the healthy lunch changes being made in time for the new school year. Among the most popular responses were:
  • Increased offerings of fruits, vegetables, whole grain foods, and other more nutritious foods;
  • Alternative preparation techniques, such as replacing deep-fried foods with baked foods;
  • Placing limits on the fat, sugar, and caloric content of foods sold through school foodservice and/or foods sold outside the cafeteria;
  • A greater focus on wellness issues including nutritional information, student education, and more “marketing” of healthier choices;
  • Maintaining portion control, especially in higher fat/higher sugar content items;
  • Improvements in food quality, menu range (especially ethnic foods), and service quality;
  • Developing and implementing wellness policies that will affect multiple areas, both within and outside school foodservice operations.
  • School nutrition directors also report that more children are eating healthy school lunches and breakfasts. Almost 63% of the 2006 respondents report an increase in Average Daily Participation rates for lunch and 62% report the same for school breakfast. A near majority (48.8%) report an increase in free/reduced participation. Correspondingly, student spending in vending machines is down from 2005, while a la carte spending is about even with last year’s level.
  • Districts continued to report financial pressure resulting in the need to increase school meal prices, although incidences of funding cutbacks continued to decrease over the past two years.
  • Continuing a trend since 1998, pizza remains the number one school lunch entrée choice according to the Survey, with chicken, and Mexican entrees taking the second and third spots. Students will have their say on the nation’s favorite school lunch when they go to the polls now through early October to vote their favorite school lunch. SNA’s “Vote for School Lunch” campaign encourages students to vote at www.VoteForSchoolLunch.org or one of five ‘candidates’ that illustrate how popular school foods such as pizza and chicken are truly healthier choices, as they are made with minimized fat content and maximized whole grains and kid-appealing taste.

The School Nutrition Association is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. The Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals. Founded in 1946, SNA is the only association devoted exclusively to protecting and enhancing children’s health and well being through school meals and sound nutrition education.

###

Nation’s Largest School Districts Developing Healthier School Environments

(110) Permanent link

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE     
Contact: Erik Peterson
703-739-3900 ext 124
epeterson@schoolnutrition.org 

Nation’s Largest School Districts Developing Healthier School Environments
School Nutrition Association Reviews Wellness Policies Passed by 100 Largest School Districts

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (August 10, 2006) – From Los Angeles to Brownsville, TX, most of the nation’s 100 largest school districts by enrollment are requiring nutrition education, adding recess and tightening nutrition standards.  Of these districts, which educate 23% of American students, more than 94% have passed a local wellness policy that addresses nutrition standards for a la carte foods and beverages, according to analysis conducted by the School Nutrition Association.

School nutrition professionals continue to play a leadership role in the ongoing trend towards healthy school environments and the development of local wellness policies.  Section 204 of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 required that all school districts that participate in the National School Lunch Program approve a local wellness policy by July 1, 2006. The law mandated that these policies include goals for nutrition education, physical activity and other school-based activities as well as nutrition guidelines for all foods and beverages available on school campuses.

The following summary outlines key characteristics of local wellness policies approved by the largest 100 school districts, by enrollment, in the United States. The School Nutrition Association is collecting and analyzing wellness policies based on 79% of those school districts that have passed policies as of August 7, 2006.

Although the top 100 school districts make up less than 1% of the school districts in the nation, they account for 16% of the schools, 21% of the teachers and 23% of the nation's K-12 students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Nutrition Standards for all Foods and Beverages Available in Schools
Of the local wellness policies approved by the top 100 school districts:
98.7% address school meal nutrition standards. (Note that the US Department of Agriculture has set federal nutrition standards for meals served through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.)

94.9% address nutrition standards for a la carte foods and beverages.

92% address nutrition standards for foods and beverages available in vending machines.

11.5% specify each individual food or beverage item within a la carte and vending programs have a maximum of 30% calories from fat, 10% calories from saturated fat and 35% sugar by weight.

23% address food safety and/or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems

66.6% address nutrition standards/guidelines for fundraisers held during school hours.

61.5% address nutrition standards/guidelines for classroom celebrations or parties.

65% address nutrition standards/guidelines for teachers using foods as rewards in the classroom.

The major themes of the nutrition standards provisions included:

  • A wide variety of approaches aimed at promoting wellness among students;
  • Following state nutrition standards and guidelines;
  • An emphasis on whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and low fat dairy foods and beverages;
  • An emphasis on a pleasant eating environment for students;
  • Scheduling recess before lunch
  • Requiring school breakfast service, often in the classroom or through hallway kiosks; and
  • Offering summer foodservice programs.

Physical Activity
Of the local wellness policies approved by the top 100 school districts:
51% of school districts address a recess requirement for at least elementary grade levels.

78% require physical activity for at least some grade levels.

The major themes of physical activity provisions included:

  • Following state physical education requirements, including after school athletic activities;
  • Incorporating physical activity into classroom activities;
  • Professional development for physical education instructors; and
  • Making athletic facilities available after school hours for the community.

Nutrition Education
Of the local wellness policies approved by the top 100 school districts:
85.8% require nutrition education for at least some grade levels.

The major themes of nutrition education provisions included:

  • Following state-specified nutrition and health education curriculum requirements;
  • Integrating nutrition education into traditional curriculum/courses (i.e. math, English, etc.);
  • Utilizing the cafeteria and school menu for nutrition education;
  • Professional development of those required to teach nutrition education; and
  • Providing nutrition education to parents.

Other School-Based Activities
Of the local wellness policies approved by the top 100 school districts:
19% incorporate staff wellness programs into school district policies. These programs encourage teachers and school staff to serve as role models in regard to wellness behaviors.

11.5% address nutrition standards for meals provided for field trips.

Implementation and Evaluation
Of the local wellness policies approved by the top 100 school districts:
94.8% outlined a plan for implementation and evaluation, utilizing the superintendent, school nutrition director or wellness policy task force as the entity responsible for monitoring the policy. The challenge for all local communities will be implementation of their policy.

Other Findings
Other components and programs mentioned in the policies of the top 100 districts were school gardens (6%) and requiring adequate time for students to eat lunch (17.9%).

Policy Approval
Of the top 100 school districts:
79% have approved a local wellness policy as of August 7, 2006.

10% have not yet approved a local wellness policy. In each of these cases, the school boards have scheduled a final vote on a draft policy for the upcoming weeks.

11% have not yet submitted a policy to be part of the top 100 school districts assessment.

The School Nutrition Association (formerly ASFSA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. The Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals. Founded in 1946, SNA is the only association devoted exclusively to protecting and enhancing children’s health and well being through school meals and sound nutrition education.

###


Bookmark and Share