Successes and Challenges in School Meal Reform: Qualitative Insights From Food Service Directors.
J Sch Health. 2017 Aug;87(8):608-615
Authors: Asada Y, Ziemann M, Zatz L, Chriqui J
BACKGROUND: The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) directed the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to revise school meal standards to increase healthy food offerings. A critical stakeholder in the implementation of standards is Food Service Directors (FSDs). We sought to examine FSDs' perspectives on revised school meal standards to gain insight into successful implementation strategies.
METHODS: Semistructured interviews were conducted with FSDs (N = 9) from high schools that had achieved HealthierUS Schools Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms (HUSSC: SL) status. Qualitative interview data were team coded in Atlas.ti v7 and analyzed with principles of constant comparative analysis.
RESULTS: FSDs reported overall positive perceptions of the revised school meal standards and its potential impacts, as well as improved fruit and vegetable consumption, despite initial challenges with plate waste, procurement of whole grain-rich products, and fast paced sodium targets. Implementation was described as complex, ongoing processes; with time and in-service trainings, student acceptance to these changes improved.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings are directly relevant to future reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act and to revisions to the implementation time line for the federal school meal standards related to sodium, whole grains, and flavored milk. Insights into FSDs' strategies suggest that more time and targeted technical assistance at federal, state, and local levels is warranted.
PMID: 28691173 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]