248863 Changing the school food environment: Evaluation of the nutritional content of a large local school district meal program

Monday, October 31, 2011

Lindsey Burbage, MPH , Los Angeles Department of Public Health, RENEW LA County(Communities Putting Prevention to Work), Los Angeles, CA
Michelle Wood, MPP , County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, RENEW LA County(Communities Putting Prevention to Work, Los Angeles, CA
Gloria Kim, MPH , Office of Senior Health, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Kristin Moschetti, MPH , County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Los Angeles, CA
Patricia Cummings, MPH , County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, Office of Senior Health, Los Angeles, CA
Brenda Robles, MPH , Los Angeles Department of Public Health, RENEW LA County(Communities Putting Prevention to Work, Los Angeles, CA
Janani Ramachandran , County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Los Angeles, CA
William McCarthy, PhD , Department of Health Services, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA
Paul Simon, MD, MPH , County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Los Angeles, CA
Tony Kuo, MD, MSHS , County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, Office of Senior Health, Los Angeles, CA
Introduction: School meals offer a unique opportunity to influence children's diets. Recently, the USDA based proposed guidelines for federal school-meal programs on the Institute of Medicine (IOM) nutrition report. Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is attempting early adoption of these recommendations for the 2011/2012 school year. We examined LAUSD's present meal content compared to the IOM recommendations and discussed the implications of the upcoming menu changes. Methods: Using a sample of meals offered in October 2010, a comparative analysis of the 2010/2011 menu and the IOM nutrition targets was conducted. Sample means and confidence intervals for food energy and sodium were calculated for four meal-categories: elementary-breakfast/lunch and secondary-breakfast/lunch. We also compared the preliminary 2011/2012 menu with the IOM food-based standards. Results: More calories were offered per meal in 2010/2011 than recommended by the IOM. Calories from all meal categories, except secondary-lunch, were above the upper-limit range by 63.8-240.6 calories (CIs: 36.5, 91.0; 185.7, 295.5, respectively). Sodium levels were also high, >300mg in all categories and >500mg for secondary-breakfast, than the IOM recommendations. The preliminary 2011/2012 menu includes sufficient fruit per meal, but inadequate vegetables in both secondary-lunch and elementary-lunch meal options.Discussion: Although proposed sodium recommendations will not be fully adopted until 10 years post-program implementation, levels will likely drop if fruit/vegetable options are increased in the new menu. Changing the school meal program is just one-step in the process of improving the food environment. Addressing sugar-sweetened beverages, competitive food sources, and healthy food promotion/signage are additional important strategies.

Learning Areas:
Chronic disease management and prevention
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Describe the nutritional content of school meals offered by the LAUSD in 2010/2011. Evaluate the LAUSD primary and secondary school menus offered in the 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 school years with respect to level of compliance with the USDA guidelines incorporating the IOM recommendations. Assess the importance of new nutrition guidelines in school meal programs for shaping the taste preferences of children consuming USDA-subsidized school meals.

Keywords: School-Based Programs, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am one of the principal research analysts evaluating the ARRA-funded Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative in Los Angeles County (i.e. RENEW-LAC).
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.