205503 Using a Needs Assessment Process to Develop Comprehensive State-wide Competitive Foods Standards

Monday, November 9, 2009: 9:30 AM

Elizabeth Walker, MS , National Assocation of State Boards of Education, Arlington, VA
Dia Adams , National Assocation of State Boards of Education, Arlington, VA

With 33% children classified as obese or overweight, changing the school environment where children spend a majority of their time becomes vital. School policymakers are creating nutrition standards addressing many issues including eliminating sugary beverages and reducing foods high in sugar and fat. However, the 2006 CDC School Health Policy and Practices Survey found many competitive foods still offered in schools were not healthful. To address this issue, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) created Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools to help school policymakers use evidenced-based guidelines to address nutritional quality, portion sizes, and the availability of the food to students.

Program Design: With funding through CDC/DASH, the National Association of State Boards of Education fosters collaborations between state boards of education, state agencies and other partners, to help build capacity and create policy around school nutrition environments. Using a needs assessment process based on the CDC's Implementing IOM's Nutrition Standards guide, states, such as Michigan and Mississippi, have worked with state board members and other partners including coordinated school health directors, state and district nutrition directors, and researchers to: use state level data to identify areas of need, compare current state nutrition standards to IOM , the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the School Nutrition Association standards, and develop plans of action to implement new standards and policy.

Results: Using this process, Michigan nutrition and coordinated school health staff worked with partners to create new standards to be piloted in 50 schools while working with policymakers to endorse and create new statewide nutrition policy. Since Mississippi recently implemented nutrition policy, they utilized the process to clarify and identify challenges to current regulations and create future policies. They will change their milk requirements, address challenges to current standards, and pilot sets of the new standards to prepare for future policy change. More work is needed to understand how implementation is brought to the local level, as well as what policies and resources create the highest impact.

Discussion: By working with a broad collaboration of state-wide stakeholders and using a needs assessment process to identify gaps, a more comprehensive obesity prevention policy can be created to promote optimal nutrition environments in schools.

Learning Objectives:
Describe different national competitive food nutrition standards from the Institute of Medicine, Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and the School Nutrition Association. Discuss different states' approaches to addressing comprehensive nutrition policy changes.

Keywords: School Health, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Elizabeth Walker is a project director at the National Association of State Boards of Education. For over a decade, she has worked with states to change policies and practices in the school, after school and child care settings to prevent obesity.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.