Norris District provides key input on national health study of school food, nutrition standards

Norris District provides key input on national health study of school food, nutrition standards

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

WASHINGTON — (JUNE 26, 2012) — Updating national nutrition standards for snack foods and beverages sold in schools could help students maintain a healthy weight and increase food service viability in schools, according to a health impact assessment (HIA) released today by the Kids’ Safe & Healthful Foods Project and the Health Impact Project.

The Norris School District in Firth, Nebraska, joined school district leaders from Miami-Dade County, Florida and the Boston, Massachusetts public schools in providing stakeholder input through a series of interviews conducted in spring, 2012 to provide key practitioner advice for the report’s findings and recommendations. The final report was just released this week.

Norris Food Service Director Linda Truscott, High School teacher and School Wellness Council chair Jane Hansmeyer, and Middle School Principal Mary Jo Rupert joined Superintendent Dr. John Skretta in providing the Norris District perspective. Norris was an invited participant in the study, underwritten by the Pew Charitable Trust and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The findings come as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prepares to issue policies requiring that food and beverages sold outside of federal school meal programs meet minimum nutrition standards. These items sold in vending machines, school stores, and cafeteria a la carte lines are often called “competitive foods” because they compete with school meals for students’ spending.

This HIA marks the first time such an evaluation has been completed to inform a new federal rule and is one of the most comprehensive scientific reviews ever conducted on competitive foods. Vetted by a wide array of experts, the peer-reviewed research includes an assessment of more than 300 studies and original economic data analyses.

Based upon the rigorous research conducted by the HIA, the projects recommend that the USDA:

  • establish nutrition standards for all foods sold regularly onsite during the school day and that are outside of the USDA meal programs;
  • set nutrition guidelines for all beverages sold on school grounds; and
  • adopt policies and practices that ensure effective implementation of the standards.

The Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, is a leading national initiative dedicated to promoting the use of health impact assessments in the United States. Learn more and see a searchable map of ongoing and completed HIAs in the United States at www.healthimpactproject.org.  

The full report can be accessed at http://www.pewhealth.org/uploadedFiles/PHG/Content_Level_Pages/Reports/KS%20HIA_FULL%20Report%20062212_WEB%20FINAL-v2.pdf