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SNA Report Shows Progress in Implementation of School Wellness Policies

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Erik Peterson
703-739-3900 ext. 124

SNA Report Shows Progress in Implementation of School Wellness Policies

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (September 5, 2007) – This month marks the one-year “birthday” of the adoption of 15,000 local school wellness policies nationwide – but few cupcakes will be served to recognize the occasion as many policies are affecting food choices far beyond the cafeteria, including foods served at classroom parties.  A report released today by the School Nutrition Association (SNA) tracks implementation progress of wellness policy topics including nutrition education, physical activity and nutrition guidelines.

Of the 97% of school districts that addressed nutrition standards for National School Lunch Program meals in their wellness policies, more than 92% state that they have completed implementation.  Similarly, of the 96% of districts that set standards for a la carte foods and beverages sold through school nutrition programs, 72% report that they have completed implementation of the standards. 

The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 required that all school districts that participate in the National School Lunch Program approve a local wellness policy by the start of the 2006-2007 school year.  The law mandated that these policies include goals for nutrition education, physical activity and other school-based activities as well as nutrition guidelines for all foods and beverages available in schools.

Released today, SNA’s From Cupcakes to Carrots: Local Wellness Policies One Year Later is compiled from a survey of 976 school nutrition directors conducted in May 2007.  Survey results indicate that implementation has been more of a challenge for policies that address foods and beverages offered outside of the school nutrition program, including food available through school stores and fundraisers, food rewards given by teachers and food served at classroom party celebrations.  Fewer than half of all districts that included these policy components have finished implementing them. Finding affordable products that meet policy nutrition standards, acceptance by students and monitoring/oversight of the policy were the biggest implementation challenges cited. 

On the positive side, more than 83% of survey respondents noted increased healthful food options in the cafeteria as a result of policy implementation and almost half indicated resulting changes in the healthy choices/behavior of students. School nutrition programs are now offering such a la carte and school lunch items as whole-wheat, reduced-fat cheese pizza; a variety of fruits and vegetables including jicama salad and kiwi; hummus and pita bread; fat free flavored milk; and low-fat yogurt. The survey found that the primary response from parents, teachers, principals and other administrators to the wellness policies and subsequent changes has been positive. The primary response from students has been neutral.

“School nutrition professionals continue to play a leadership role in the ongoing trend toward developing healthy school environments through the implementation of local wellness policies,” said SNA President Mary Hill, SNS. “Schools are meeting their responsibility and stepping up to the plate to promote healthful eating and physical activity among children.”

Survey results indicate one crucial concern, however: Without ongoing parent support away from school, the benefits of effective school wellness policies will be limited. Children consume less than 20% of their calories in school; parents’ and caregivers’ active support of wellness messages and behaviors and positive influence at home is critical to the success of these programs.

From Cupcakes to Carrots: Local Wellness Policies One Year Later was produced in collaboration with the School Nutrition Foundation and the National Dairy Council and copies can be accessed online through the School Nutrition Association’s Web site www.schoolnutrition.org.

About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA), www.schoolnutrition.org, 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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