A combination of staffing shortages, school closures and supply chain disruptions left schools unable to meet the nutritional and meal pattern requirements of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP), found a study published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Children Nutrition & Management (JCN&M), SNA’s biannual research journal that was published this week on SchoolNutrition.org.
In response, policies such as the Family First Coronavirus Response Act, the National Meal Pattern Flexibility Act and the Non-Congregate Feeding Nationwide Waiver were enacted, providing schools with more flexibility in what food they could serve and how they could serve it. According to the authors of the study, “Disrupted Food Supply Chain’s Effects on School Nutrition Programs’ Ability to Meet USDA Nutrition Guidelines During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” schools across the country used these policies to their advantage, offering a variety of serving models, including drive-through or walk-up distribution sites or delivering food directly to students’ homes or along bus routes.
But despite new policies, school adaptability and further government funding, issues in procuring supplies and serving meals persist more than two years after the start of the pandemic. This study highlights the fact that school nutrition is a multifaceted field that requires multiple sectors of government and industry to come together and support schools in the face of pandemic-fueled challenges—and the research shows that school districts still need that support to continue nearly three years later.
As someone working in the school nutrition field, it’s important to have access to evidence and research-backed information on current issues affecting school nutrition. Whether it’s information about nutritional guidelines, evaluation of new school meal practices, research on food safety—or anything else school nutrition-related—JCN&M has peer-reviewed, scholarly articles to help inform you on those topics.
The Fall 2022 issue of JCN&M also features studies such as:
- “Abstracts of Annual National Conference Research Posters 2022:” A look at research presented at SNA’s July conference, including:
- “Food Traceability in School Foodservice Operations: Benefits and Challenges”
- “Mississippi School Foodservice Directors’ Farm to School Procurement Practices by Region”
- “Stakeholders’ Insight about Farm to School Produce Food Safety”
- “Ensuring Proper Benefits for Students in School Meal Programs:” Confusion over reporting income and household members on applications for free or reduced-price meals led to households receiving incorrect school meal benefits, and this study examines research on the application process and discusses possible solutions to that problem.
- “Evaluating Perceptions of a Sensory-Based Nutrition Curriculum Among Head Start Teachers in Mississippi:” This study reviews focus group sessions with 21 preschool teachers who implemented The Impact of a Preschool Obesity Prevention (I-POP) intervention programs, including Hip Hop 2 Health (HH2H), in their classrooms.
- “Impact of COVID-19 On Foodservice Operations Within Urban Kansas Childcare Centers:” Researchers investigate the impact of COVID-19 on Kansas childcare centers participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
- “Institute of Child Nutrition Applied Research Division Research Update:” An overview of recently completed research from the Institute of Child Nutrition, Applied Research Division, including a COVID-19 taskforce study, “Competencies, Knowledge, and Skills of Effective School Nutrition Assistants/Technicians” and “Evaluation of ICN Training Program: Nutrition 101 (Online and Face-To-Face Modes)”
- “Investigating the Transparency and Accessibility of High Schools’ School Wellness Policy Documentation:” Schools that participate in NSLP or SBP are required to develop local school wellness policies aimed at promoting the health of students and the community, and this study reviews the accessibility of three School Wellness Policy documents on high school websites in one state.