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.
This spring issue of The Journal of Child Nutrition and Management is filled with practical solutions and research findings that are useful to child nutrition professionals, state agency professionals, educators, researchers, university students, and others. The topics of nutrition education, wellness policies, school environment, training, and food safety are important to all of us who advocate for school nutrition programs.
Grenci and colleagues initiated a social marketing campaign by collaborating with community partners from Cooperative Extension, SNAP-Ed (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education), and New Jersey Action for Healthy Kids. They found a greater variety of fruits and vegetables are now regularly offered on the school lunch menu; increases in student nutrition knowledge; increases in fruit and vegetable consumption by children; and significant increases in teachers’ willingness to actively participate in efforts that would improve the school wellness environment.
Litchfield and Wenz examined National School Lunch Program (NSLP) participation and competitive foods purchasing among students before and after Local Wellness Policy implementation and assessed factors in the school environment that influence NSLP participation and competitive foods purchasing. They discovered that physical environment was more influential than policy environment and “additional opportunities for child nutrition professionals emerge including ensuring that Local Wellness Policies are fully implemented and focusing on changes to the physical environment to achieve desired outcomes and impacts”.
Molaison and colleagues evaluated the degree of implementation of nutrition components of the Local Wellness Policies in Mississippi in 2008. They concluded significant improvements have been made in the implementation of Local Wellness Policies from 2006 to 2008. Many principals listed not having a qualified teacher for nutrition education as a major barrier to implementation of nutrition components. This presents future job opportunities for those with nutrition and/or health backgrounds to have a potential impact on the provision of nutrition education in the school setting.
Paez and colleagues assessed current training methods and topics used at school foodservice operations as well as attitudes toward training employees with disabilities. Findings showed school foodservice directors have been open to employing people with disabilities and they use a variety of training methods and tools to meet their needs. School districts might want to consider training for staff to better understand benefits to hiring employees with disabilities.
Oakley and colleagues evaluated National Food Service Management Institute training materials, Meeting Special Food and Nutrition Needs of Students in the School Setting. The results supported offering the training to other school nutrition administrators and managers to increase their behavioral knowledge related to providing for the special dietary needs of students with and without disabilities.
Bounds Stinson and colleagues assessed the extent to which school nutrition programs have implemented food safety programs based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles, as well as factors, barriers, and practices related to implementation of these programs. They found that implementation of programs was often incomplete, however directors who had worked in school nutrition programs for more than 20 years, school districts in the Southwest region, and larger school districts were all more likely to have implemented these programs. They concluded that there is a need for further training and education to increase implementation rates.
The barriers and supportive practices identified in their research can be used to develop educational materials and target training efforts.
This issue also includes Endahl’s summary of USDA Food and Nutrition Service research. I would like to acknowledge the assistance of Amber King, MS, RD and Kyunghee Choi, MS, RD from Eastern Michigan University. They have contributed their talents and expertise to ensure the continued success of the Journal. I look forward to your feedback on the Journal.
Alice Jo Rainville, PhD, RD, CHE, SNS