Full Article

 Please note that this study was published before the implementation of Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which went into effect during the 2012-13 school year, and its provision for Smart Snacks Nutrition Standards for Competitive Food in Schools, implemented during the 2014-15 school year. As such, certain research may not be relevant today.

As I write this, it is a beautiful sunny spring day in Oklahoma. This year is Oklahoma’s Centennial, prompting us Okies to reflect on who we are, what we have accomplished, and why we are proud of our great state. Recently, I read, The Worst Hard Time, a book about the dust bowl years; the struggles of the early settlers really became vivid. Each generation has challenges to confront and opportunities to explore.

The school nutrition profession is no different. Early leaders worked tirelessly to get school nutrition programs established to meet the nutrition and health needs of America’s children. Today, we continue to struggle to provide these programs, facing such challenges as limited budgets, inadequate numbers of employees, and, sometimes, little support from teachers and administrators. And new challenges arise every day. Obesity/wellness and food safety are two current hot topics we now confront on a daily basis.

This issue of The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management addresses many topics of concern in today’s school nutrition environment. Cater and Carr have reviewed and revised the competencies, knowledge statements, and skills necessary for school nutrition managers to be effective in today’s work environment. This work updates an earlier study and points out how the school nutrition environment is changing constantly.

Guinn et al. examine the prevalence of overweight and at risk for overweight among Fourth Grade children. The authors support taking height and weight measurements of children at school to determine BMI, tracking changes over time. Thompson et al. found that using a social marketing campaign increased fruit, juice, and vegetable consumption among middle school students. This provides a model for the use of social marketing to support behavior change, from food intake to hand-washing.

Cullen and Watson have developed a scale to determine school foodservice workers’ perceptions of the organizational culture in their workplaces. This scale, which measures managerial and collegial support, could be a useful assessment tool for foodservice directors to use to evaluate the culture in their program and identify changes that might improve the work environment.

Food safety is addressed in two studies. Results of a three-year educational intervention on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Program (HACCP) implementation is reported by Sneed and Henroid. Tidwell and her colleagues have evaluated the HACCP training network established by the National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI), which provides training across the United States to support food-safety program implementation in schools.

Implementing research in practice helps us improve our school nutrition programs — both in

day-to-day operations and in identifying future program needs. We need to identify a clear vision of where we are going and move quickly to achieve that vision. Our programs will continue to change, and we will have to change, too. To quote a famous Oklahoman, Will Rogers, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

Jeannie Sneed, PhD, RD, CFSP, SFNS