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School Nutrition Association Finds Districts Increasing Healthy Options

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Erik Peterson
(703) 739-3900 Ext 124
epeterson@schoolnutrition.org  


School Nutrition Association Finds Districts Increasing Healthy Options
 “State of School Nutrition 2007” survey of 1,200 foodservice directors released today


ALEXANDRIA, Va., August 7, 2007 – An emphasis on healthy school environments and increasing availability of nutritious foods was indicated in results from the School Nutrition Association’s comprehensive “School Nutrition Operations Report: The State of School Nutrition 2007,” released today.  In addition to following federal dietary guidelines, more than 87% of school districts have nutrition requirements for the foods and beverages sold by school foodservice, up 30% from 2005.  Three out of five school districts also have nutrition restrictions for foods and beverages sold by groups outside the cafeteria such as PTA’s, athletic departments and student governments, a four-fold increase from two years ago.  Many of the positive changes cited are due in part to the implementation of local wellness policies this past school year.

Last released in May 2005, the updated State of School Nutrition 2007 report was accumulated from a survey of 1,200 school nutrition directors nationwide and benchmarks detailed information impacting school nutrition programs. The report found a majority of schools offer fat-free or low-fat milk (97%), fresh fruits and vegetables (96%), salad bars or pre-packaged salads (88%), yogurt and yogurt drinks (81%), from-scratch baked items (63%) and vegetarian meals (52%).  Additionally, the availability of locally grown fruits and vegetables has increased to 32% of schools.

"The findings from this survey are a clear indication of the tremendous strides made by school nutrition directors, managers and employees nationwide to help children make the right food choices," said School Nutrition Association president Mary Hill, SNS, and executive director of Child Nutrition Services for Jackson Public Schools in Mississippi.

The State of School Nutrition 2007 covers demographics and operational parameters, programs and policies, breakfast and lunch service types, food safety measures, foodservice budget issues, marketing and customer service and pressing concerns. Among the findings:

  • Breakfast is available in 96% of districts; traditional cafeteria style, a la carte service, breakfast-in-a-bag and classroom service are the most prevalent service styles cited.  After-school snack and summer foodservice programs are now offered by 47% and 43% of districts, respectively.
  • Respondents identified funding as the most pressing issue facing school nutrition directors nationwide. Childhood overweight, the cost of food/food preparation and implementation of local wellness policies were seen as the next most pressing issues.
  • Formal policies are in place in more than eight of every ten districts on:
    • Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)
    • Use of foodservice facility by groups other than foodservice
    • Nutritional requirements of foods/beverages sold by school foodservice
    • Procurement policies and bid practices
    • Crisis management plan/emergency preparedness plan
    • Food safety
    • Time of day certain foods/beverages can be sold

  • A significant decline was seen in branded fast food offered by school nutrition programs.  Local pizza restaurants are the most prevalent commercial brands cited, seen in only 7.3% of the districts as part of their reimbursable meal service and 7% as part of their a la carte service.  Food from the four major fast food chain restaurants are offered by less than 1% of the districts.
  • Nine out of ten school districts involve students in taste testing at least some of their new menu items, on par with the 2005 Report findings.
  • Meal charges show consistent rates of increase over time. The average charge for full-paid lunch reaches $1.66 for elementary schools, $1.85 for middle schools and $1.90 for high schools. A similar pattern is seen for breakfast charges, with average prices reaching $0.97 in elementary schools, $1.03 in middle schools, and $1.05 in high schools. One-third of school districts increased the price of a full-paid school lunch in the past school year, with an average increase of $0.15 per meal across elementary, middle and high schools.
  • A majority of districts, 62%, presently use an automated payment system, up 11% from two years ago. Of the automated payment systems presently in use, 71% allow parents to monitor or limit what students can purchase. The prevalence of these systems peaks in the smaller districts.
  • Open-campus lunch programs continue to decline, with only a quarter of respondents reporting that their district has an open campus lunch. As in the past, the greatest concentration of open-campus lunch is seen at the high school level, cited by 24%.
  • About 86% of districts report that an HACCP program has been implemented in all of their schools across all grade levels. This represents a major increase from the levels seen in past surveys, jumping from about 35% four years ago.

The State of School Nutrition 2007 represents the feedback of almost 1,200 school foodservice directors from districts in 49 states. The survey was conducted in spring of 2007. Copies of the full report can be ordered from the School Nutrition Association’s online bookstore at www.schoolnutrition.org.

The School Nutrition Association is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. The Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals. Founded in 1946, SNA is the only association devoted exclusively to protecting and enhancing children’s health and well being through school meals and sound nutrition education.

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