Online Program

Implementing Nutrition Policies in High-risk Schools: What are the barriers to success and lessons learned?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Michelle Mitchell, MSocSc, Partnerships For Health, Augusta, ME
Troy Fullmer, Division of Population Health, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Augusta, ME
Rebecca Drewette-Card, MSPH, Partnerships For Health, Augusta, ME
Kristen Jozkowski, PhD, Partnerships For Health, Augusta, ME
Introduction: Proper nutrition promotes optimal growth and development for children and deters negative health outcomes including diabetes and childhood obesity. School settings can facilitate healthy food consumption by creating and maintaining supportive nutrition environments and cultures.

Methods: Eight high-risk (characterized by high poverty rates and low academic achievement) school districts in Maine were selected to work with Let’s Go! to develop Action Plans aimed at developing/implementing environmental change policies to improve school nutrition. To examine the efficacy of the policy implementation, we conducted ten structured interviews with food service directors, school administrators and Let’s Go!staff. Interviews lasted approximately one hour. Data were analyzed using an inductive model and thematic analysis.

Results: Positive and negative factors associated with the individual (influence of staff, students, parents), the systems (school infrastructure--schedule, conflicting school policies) and the environmental (equipment available in kitchen, presence/absence of cafeteria) contributions to successful implementation were identified. We also identified specific individual, systems, and environmental barriers and facilitators associated with policy implementation, such as poorly laid out cafeterias and strategic placement of food choices respectively.

Conclusions: Due to the federal mandate that schools participating in federal child nutrition programs establish wellness policies, understanding the implementation of these policies in high-risk schools in Maine has important implications for improving the health of students  and for implementation of such policies elsewhere in the future. We will discuss the potential longer-term outcomes associated with implementation as well as lessons learned and key resources for success.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice

Learning Objectives:
Describe three components of an Action Plan designed to improve school-environments in order to increase healthy food consumption among students attending at-risk schools in Maine. Identify barriers and facilitators associated with the implementation of the environmental nutrition policies in at-risk school districts in Maine.

Keyword(s): Evaluation, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the founder and Executive Director of Partnerships For Health and a trained clinical psychologist with expertise in qualitative research. I have taken the lead positions in various evaluation projects at a state and local level. I am a qualitative researcher with expertise in developmental evaluation, CBPR, and the use of innovative approaches such as Photovoice. PFH is the lead independent evaluator for the Maine Coordinated Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Programs Grant.
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.