A new SNA (School Nutrition Association) report indicates that most school districts have completed implementation of their nutrition standards for National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and a la carte offerings. The report, From Cupcakes to Carrots: Local Wellness Policies One Year Later, was compiled from a survey of 976 school nutrition directors conducted this past May.
The survey shows that 97% of school districts have addressed nutrition standards for NSLP meals in their wellness policies, and more than 92% say that they have completed implementation of those standards. Meanwhile, 96% of districts have set standards for a la carte foods and beverages sold through school nutrition programs, and 72% of these report that they have completed implementation of the standards.
However, the survey also showed that implementation of nutrition standards has been more of a challenge for policies that address foods and beverages offered outside of the school nutrition programs, such as school stores, fundraisers, food rewards given by teachers and food served at classroom party celebrations. Less 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.
“Schools are meeting their responsibility and stepping up to the plate to promote healthful eating and physical activity among children,” says SNA President Mary Hill, SNS.