4273.0 School wellness policy demonstration project: Taking lessons learned into action

Tuesday, November 9, 2010: 2:30 PM - 4:00 PM
In response to the inter-related epidemics of poor nutrition, physical inactivity and obesity and their relationship to academic performance the U.S. legislature required that all school districts adopt a comprehensive wellness policy by the 2006-7 school year. The requirement to develop a policy reportedly resulted in a high level of compliance. However questions remain regarding the level of implementation of these policies, factors influencing successful implementation, critical steps for sustaining implementation, and the impact on student food purchases and school finances. In order to answer these questions the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded The School Wellness Policy Demonstration Project in three states (California, Iowa and Pennsylvania). During the project these states experienced three distinct levels of regulation related to school foods, thereby providing a unique opportunity to assess the impact of these different approaches. The study design was pre-post with comparison group and the methodologies included surveys and interviews with school personnel, records of meal participation and food and beverage sales, systematic observations of the nutrition environment, and reports from project schools. Eighty-four schools from 31 districts participated. Findings to be presented include: changes that were made to the meal program, food service facilities and competitive foods and beverages; impact on meal participation and food and beverage sales; associations between various environmental (i.e. closed campus), policy and implementation factors and outcomes such as meal participation and degree of compliance with the nutrition standards; critical steps for ensuring the sustainability of policy implementation including assignment of leadership responsibilities, monitoring, and accountability; the schools’ status in taking these steps; and their needs related to making progress in these areas. We will consider what role the regulatory environment in the three states may have in shaping implementation of the policies. Implications for current federal policy efforts will be discussed as well as the identification of critical policy and programmatic actions that must be taken at all levels to ensure wellness policies are thoroughly implemented and produce the desired results. The USDA Deputy Under Secretary will lead a discussion with the audience at the end of the session.
Session Objectives: Compare and contrast the changes made to nutrition environments, meal participation and competitive food purchases during wellness policy implementation in three states with distinct regulatory environments. Identify environmental, policy, and process factors related to successful implementation of nutrition policies and increased meal participation. Describe the critical steps related to sustaining school wellness policy implementation.
Pat Crawford, DrPH, RD
Janey Thornton, PhD, Deputy Under Secretary

Janey Thornton, PhD, Deputy Under Secretary and Pat Crawford, DrPH, RD
Impact of school wellness policies on school nutrition in 3 states with unique regulatory environments
Gail Woodward-Lopez, MPH, RD, Janice Kao, MPH, Mary Lussier, MPH, RD and Pat Crawford, DrPH, RD
Factors related to successful implementation of nutrition guidelines
Ruth Litchfield, PhD, RD, LD and Katherine Thomas, PhD
Critical steps to sustaining wellness policy implementation
Elaine McDonnell, MS, RD and Claudia K. Probart, PhD, RD

See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement and author's information.

Organized by: Food and Nutrition
Endorsed by: Maternal and Child Health

CE Credits: Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH)

See more of: Food and Nutrition