School nutrition programs are making significant progress in introducing healthier food items in school meals, according to the 2006 School Health Policies & Programs Study (SHPPS), released in mid-October by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the Department of Health & Human Services.
Among the findings, SHPPS reports that the percentage of schools that serve deep-fried potatoes fell from 40 percent in 2000 to 19 percent in 2006, and that only about nine percent of schools where onsite staff has procurement responsibility still order whole milk. Also, 88 percent of high schools, 85 percent of middle schools and 77 percent of elementary schools are under district requirements to teach nutrition education.
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) said it was encouraged by the findings, which it notes are consistent with trends seen in SNA’s 2007 School Nutrition Operations Report and the 2007 SNA School Trends Report.
“The report echoes what school nutrition professionals see everyday in the school dining room,” SNA says, adding that “it is important to note the report does not fully reflect all of the changes made as a result of schools implementing local school wellness policies, as this requirement just went into effect this past school year. In reality schools could be even further along in making healthy changes.