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ERIC Number: EJ978476
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1559-5676
Key Strategies for Improving School Nutrition: A Case Study of Three School Nutrition Program Innovators
Sacheck, Jennifer M.; Morgan, Emily H.; Wilde, Parke; Griffin, Timothy; Nahar, Elizabeth; Economos, Christina D.
Journal of Child Nutrition & Management, v36 n1 Spr 2012
Purpose/Objective: This case study identified common elements of three diverse New England school districts that were real-world models of improving school meals. Methods: School districts that had greater than 1,000 students, [greater than or equal to]3 schools, and [greater than or equal to]40% of students who qualified for free- or reduced-price lunch were identified in three New England states. The districts were contacted via e-mail and phone to determine if significant positive changes had occurred in their school nutrition system within the past 5 years. Twelve school nutrition programs meeting these criteria were interviewed to determine the extent of their efforts to increase the availability of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; reduce the availability of processed foods; and participate in a farm-to-school program. Three districts were chosen based on the reports of positive changes, and on district size and state location criteria. Interviews and site visits were conducted to fully examine policies, school nutrition program dynamics, and finances in the three selected districts. Results: A universal commitment to "kids first" enabled the three school districts to make great strides in the conception and implementation of five common strategies to give children access to healthful meals and reduce the availability of unhealthful foods: 1) cooking more; 2) serving fresh fruits and vegetables; 3) making changes in competitive foods; 4) creatively sourcing healthful foods; and 5) connecting food with the environment and good health. Ultimately, improvements in healthful food had to be either revenue-neutral or, alternatively, increased costs had to be offset by economic savings elsewhere in the school nutrition budget. Building strong relationships among school nutrition staff, school administration, and the community was an important element within all of these strategies. Application to Child Nutrition Professionals: This case study of three school districts suggests that strong and persistent leadership promoting financial and culinary creativity is critical to school nutrition program success in providing access to healthful foods for students and maintaining fiscal solvency. (Contains 2 tables and 1 figure.)
School Nutrition Association. 120 Waterfront Street Suite 300, National Harbor, MD 20745. Tel: 301-686-3100; Fax: 301-686-3115; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Maine; Massachusetts; New Hampshire