A research conducted to study food service policy acceptance in schools it has been found that there is a difference between principals' and foodservice directors' perceptions.
They have different ideas of 'competitive food' policies.
These highlight the need for communication among key stakeholders addressing new wellness policy development mandated by the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004.
'Competitive foods are those sold on K through 12 school campuses that compete with school meals. Currently, school meals must meet nutrient standards and the Dietary Guidelines but competitive foods are only minimally regulated and are often low in nutritional value.' Were the views of Elaine McDonnell, project coordinator leading the study by the Penn state university.
Nutrition guidelines are needed for foods and beverages sold in school cafeterias to be developed by local communities.
'Wellness policy development has been mandated to parents, students, school food authorities, school boards, school administrators and the public. It offers a wonderful opportunity and impetus for local communities and schools to become pro-active in combating childhood obesity.' Further added by McDonnell.
The research paper is titled, 'School Competitive Food Policies: Perceptions of Pennsylvania Public High School Foodservice Directors and Principals,' and will find pride of a place in the current (February) issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
The research has been done by McDonnell, Dr. Claudia Probart, associate professor of nutritional sciences, J. Elaine Weirich, project coordinator, Dr. Terryl Hartman, associate professor of nutritional sciences and Lisa Bailey-Davis, director of operations, Pennsylvania Advocates for Nutrition and Activity, Penn State Harrisburg.
The researchers received an 84 percent response out of 271 surveys sent. One hundred principals at the same schools were also asked to complete a survey and 79 percent of them did. The researchers found that more principals than school foodservice directors reported the existence of enforced policies. Almost 40 percent of principals reported this as policy that is enforced, compared with only 15 percent of school foodservice directors. Similar to previous research, the Penn State researchers found that, in general, there are few school nutrition policies related to competitive foods.
Therefore it is high time that a focussed and unanimous policy is adopted and all people participate in this endeavour. Both factions Principals and Directors should cooperate and make nutritional guidelines.