Full Article

Please note that this study was published before the SY2014-15 implementation of the Smart Snacks Nutrition Standards for Competitive Food in Schools, as required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Acts of 2010. As such, certain research relating to food in schools may not be relevant today.

After spending 22 years in the academic world, it’s exciting to be named the new editor of the Journal of Child Nutrition and Management In the past, I have served as both a reviewer and contributing author for articles published in the Journal, so I know the effort that goes into both of these activities. Previous service of five years on SNA’s Research Committee and frequent attendance at Annual National Conferences have given me some insight into the issues and challenges facing school nutrition directors. I am happy to assume a position where I can be of service to the field of school nutrition

Articles published in the Research in Action section of this Journal’s issue cover a wide variety of topics. Two articles evaluate actions that were taken to increase nutrition standards for school meals prior to implementation of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Pucciarelli and colleagues investigated the impact of Indiana legislation on food choices of seventh graders while Young and associates studied the effect of a large urban school district’s wellness policy on middle school students’ consumption of fruits and vegetables.

From Sweden comes an interesting article by Rosander and associates on the nutrient content of elementary school lunches. Results show that, like American students, Swedish students often do not eat all of the lunch foods served, thus causing nutrient intake to fall below standards.

Other research articles cover diverse topics: youth gardens, a BackPack program, and food policies at charter schools. Wright and colleagues explored the effectiveness of Wisconsin workshops that provided training on how to start and sustain youth gardens with limited resources. What better way than youth gardens to teach children about the source of food and interest them in eating new foods? School nutrition directors may glean ideas from this article that will assist with developing youth gardens at local schools. Food insecurity continues to be a widespread problem in the U.S. and may affect student behavior at school. Ecker and Sifers investigated the effect of a weekend BackPack Program on hunger and on-task behavior of elementary school children. They have provided examples of surveys that other nutrition professionals can use to evaluate similar programs. While most school nutrition research has focused on public school programs, Linsenmeyer and associates explored school food policies relating to competitive foods in charter schools participating in the National School Lunch Program.

Since middle school is a time when school lunch participation often begins to decline, school nutrition directors may be interested in an article submitted by Rushing. His commentary describes two surveys developed by staff at the National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI): 1) a non-participation survey intended to help school nutrition directors understand why students choose not to eat school lunch and 2) a participation survey designed to reveal why students eat school lunch and their perceptions about the lunch program.

This issue includes abstracts for 20 research posters that were presented at the 2013 School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference. Also included is Nettles’ summary of school nutrition research studies conducted by NFSMI and research-based resources developed by NFSMI for use by school nutrition directors. In this issue, we recognize the many reviewers who have volunteered their time and expertise to evaluate the manuscripts submitted to the Journal throughout the year. Their assistance is invaluable in assisting us to maintain a high quality research publication.

Carolyn Bednar, PhD, RD, LD