2004 Child Nutrition Showcase Abstracts
Research Related to Child Nutrition Programs
NATIONAL SCHOOL MEALS PROGRAM NOT THE ONLY ‘MEAL TICKET’ IN
Deborah Rees, RD, LDN and Barbara Burnell, PhD; Illinois NET Program
To conduct a survey of principals and school foodservice directors in
junior high and high schools to determine the types of foods and beverages
sold outside the federally regulated school meals programs and ascertain
the attitudes of key decision-makers concerning a healthy school environment.
A random sample of 1,266 public schools and all of the 128 nonpublic
high schools in Illinois was selected for a total sample of 900 schools.
The survey was sent to 900 principals and 739 foodservice directors
from the selected schools. Completed surveys were received from 339
principals and 404 foodservice directors, representing 585 (65%) schools
in the sample.
Eighty-six percent of the schools reported offering a la carte foods
and beverages daily with pizza, snack chips, and French fries identified
as the best sellers. The most popular item, purchased in 84% of the
vending machines, was soda (12- and 20-oz, sizes). Nearly one-third
of the schools surveyed have vending machines that are available to
students all day. Seventy-two percent had incentive- and commission-based
contracts with soda companies. Seventy-three percent of the schools
sold food for fundraising, while 58% sold candy. Principals (53%) and
foodservice directors (49%) believe that schools should provide students
with a variety of food and drink choices but should, however, promote
more healthful choices through such initiatives as price incentives,
marketing, and nutrition education. Both groups favored a district-
or school-wide policy that sets nutrition standards for all food and
beverages sold in the school. When asked what policy should be a top
priority in creating a more healthful school environment, 35% of principals
and 48% of school foodservice staff indicated a need for nutrition
education for students, parents, administration, food personnel, or
The information from the survey provides school administrators, child
nutrition staff, and health educators with the information they need
to develop programs that improve their school’s nutrition environment.
EFFECTING BEHAVIOR CHANGE IN A MULTI-DISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO SCHOOL-BASED
HEALTH EDUCATION TRAINING, AGES 8-12
Debra Harris, PhD; California Nutrition Network for Healthy, Active Families;
California State University, Fresno, CA.
The purpose of this study is to assess the change in nutritional intake
behavior of children, ages 8-12, after attending a five-week nutrition-training
Forty-seven students attending an after-school recreation program at
five low-income elementary schools were studied. The elementary school
students participated in a five-week nutrition-training program. During
each session, selected elementary school students were interviewed
for a 24-hour dietary recall. At that point, students’ height,
weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) were measured. Health educators, with
educational backgrounds in social work, nutrition, and kinesiology,
trained the elementary school students. Three months after the conclusion
of the training sessions, the students were interviewed for a 24-hour
dietary recall to assess the change in their eating habits, nutritional
intake, and BMI.
After the five-week training session, students’ BMI changed toward
a more therapeutic level and their fruit consumption increased. Additional
findings indicate a slight increase in their intake of carbohydrates,
protein, fat, calories, fruits, and vegetables.
Based on these findings, a multi-disciplinary approach for elementary
school health education in after-school programs is suggested for child
EVALUATION OF THE FREE BREAKFAST PROGRAM IN ST. JOSEPH, MISSOURI
Hui-chun Huag, Kuei-I Lee and Carol Shanklin, PhD; Kansas State University
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficiency of the free breakfast
program implemented in the St. Joseph, MO, school district.
The study sample was comprised of three experimental and three control
schools. Quantitative and qualitative data were obtained to evaluate
the efficiency of the program. Participation and attendance data were
obtained for all students in the six schools for the pre-implementation
(2001-02) and post-implementation (2002-03) phases. Math and science
scores from 345 match samples were assessed to investigate the academic
performance of each school. ANCOVA and paired-samples t-tests were
used to compare the differences between match samples. In-depth interviews
were conducted with foodservice directors and principals and a survey
was administrated to teachers to assess their perceptions concerning
the free breakfast program. Breakfast consumption data were obtained
from a random sample of students.
Attendance slightly increased from 90.21% to 90.42% in the experimental
schools. In the experimental schools, participation increased from
44.61% during the pre-intervention phase to 84% during the post-intervention
phase. The service method also influenced participation. Academic performance
of students in matched samples did not increase significantly. For
experimental schools, attendance increased significantly from 91.0%
to 94.3% for students in the matched sample. Attendance for students
in the free eligibility group increased the most. Benefits of the free
breakfast program included better attentiveness during morning classes
and increased attendance. Availability of nutritious packaged breakfast
items for the “Breakfast in the Bag” program was identified
as a major challenge.
Program directors can use the results of this study to identify the benefits
and challenges they may need to address when assessing the feasibility
of implementing a free breakfast program. Data on attendance and participation
of students from limited-income families may be helpful in discussing
the benefits of a free breakfast program with administrators.
CAN FRESH FRUIT CONSUMPTION BE IMPROVED AMONG ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOL
Tzu-Chu Chien; University of Nevada, Las Vegas
This study investigated whether changing the form in which fresh fruit
is served increases the consumption of fruit by elementary and middle
schools students from limited-income families in one school district.
Currently this school district serves fresh fruit as whole fruit. It
is thought that students may eat more fruit if it is cut into “ready-to-eat” pieces,
treated with an ascorbic acid compound to maintain freshness, and packaged
into individual portions.
For three 6-week periods, either whole Red Delicious apples or packaged
fresh apple slices were offered free to all students in a low-income
elementary and middle school (enrollment = 1500 students). Students
were permitted to take as many apples/packages as they liked, however,
they were limited to eating them in the lunchroom during the lunch
period. All apple and packaging waste was collected in special waste
containers monitored by study personnel. The fruit was weighed prior
to the service period, unused fruit and waste were weighed after the
service period, and the weight of the fruit consumed was calculated.
Data means and statistical comparisons of the means was calculated
Data collection was to be concluded in June 2004. Data analysis was to
be used to test the following hypotheses: 1) Students will eat significantly
more fruit when it is offered in a ready-to-eat form than when it is
offered as whole fruit; 2) Given a choice, students will select ready-to-eat
fruit significantly more frequently than they will select whole fruit;
and 3) There are significant differences in the consumption patterns
and preferences of elementary school students and middle school students.
If the first and second hypotheses above prove to be true, the school
district plans to modify the way fresh fruits and vegetables are served
on school menus in an effort to encourage children to eat these items.
If differences are found in the preferences and consumption patterns
of elementary and middle school children, those variations will be
taken into account during menu planning.
REMEMBRANCES OF EARLY CHILD NUTRITION PROGRAMS: AN ORAL HISTORY
Meredith Johnson; National Food Service Management Institute
The objective of the oral history project is to record and document the
remembrances of those involved in the early years of child nutrition
programs (CNP). Through interviews with CNP professionals from each
region of the country, different perspectives are being recorded. As
part of this project, additional material, such as photos and correspondence
concerning child nutrition programs, is being collected. These materials,
along with the oral history interviews, document changes the CNP has
undergone over the years.
To implement this project, individuals from different regions who had
worked in the child nutrition field over a number of years were selected.
They were video- and/or audiotaped. Questions asked by the interviewer
depended upon the interviewee’s experiences. Interviews were
transcribed and made available at the National Food Service Management
Institute (NFSMI) Web site. The additional materials collected are
housed in the Child Nutrition Archives located at NFSMI. Guides to
these collections are being made available at the NFSMI Web site.
The information and materials collected during this project will be invaluable
to nutritionists and social scientists. For nutritionists, the information
collected provides a unique opportunity to gain more knowledge and
insight into federal child nutrition programs and how they have evolved
over the years. For social scientists, data could be used in comparative
studies between regions and to help understand the impact of the programs.
The information collected from the interviews and additional materials
documents the successes of and changes in child nutrition programs
and enables researchers to gain insight into the impact of these programs
and to make decisions for the future based on the past.
PREVALENCE OF COOK-CHILL AND COOK-FREEZE SYSTEMS IN SCHOOL FOODSERVICE
Denise Brown PhD, RD, LD; NFSMI Applied Research Division, The University
of Southern Mississippi
This study was designed to identify the extent to which cook-chill or
cook-freeze productions systems are used by school districts across
the United States. A second objective was to identify equipment used
to transport and reheat food onsite.
A 5-minute telephone survey was constructed and pilot tested. The questions
were designed so that there was a minimal need to reference supporting
records or documents. Calls were conducted using a Computer Assisted
Telephone Interviewing (CATI) system. A nationwide proportional random
sample of school district contacts was identified (n=540) from a commercial
database. Individuals received an informational letter prior to the
calling period. Data were collected during each phone call and saved
as data files. Descriptive statistical analyses were completed using
SPSS Version 11.5 (SPSS, Inc., Chicago, IL).
A total of 353 (65%) individuals completed the surveys, which were collected
over a 2-week calling period. A total of 151 school district contacts
reported using either a central kitchen or a combination of a central
kitchen with additional onsite kitchens. A total of 42 of these 151
school districts (27.8%) reported use of either cook-chill or cook-freeze
systems. Central warehouse inventories were reported by 20 of these
42 school districts and 14 other districts reported a combination of
a central warehouse inventory in addition to onsite inventories. Daily
deliveries using basic trucks were reported most often. Convection
ovens as the method used to heat foods prior to service were reported
most frequently. District enrollment, number of schools, and the percentage
of free and reduced-price meals were not associated with the type of
production system implemented.
Child nutrition professionals considering renovation of existing school
kitchens or participating in new facility construction may find this
information helpful for planning either a central kitchen or a combinations
of central and onsite kitchens systems.
PERCEPTIONS, PRACTICES, AND BARRIERS TO SCHOOL FOODSERVICE DIRECTORS
IN PROVIDING NUTRITION EDUCATION TO STUDENTS
Laurel Lambert, PhD, RD, LD, University of Idaho; and Deborah Carr, PhD,
RD, LD, NFSMI Applied Research Division, The University of Southern Mississippi
Individuals who manage National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs
are encouraged to take an active role in providing nutrition and healthy
lifestyle education to students. The purpose of this research was to
identify foodservice directors’ perceptions, practices, and barriers
concerning their role in supporting nutrition education for elementary
A survey instrument, Nutrition Education Practices Survey (NEPS) for
Foodservice Directors, was developed and mailed to school foodservice
directors from 140 randomly selected elementary schools in Idaho and
Arkansas. The survey addressed demographics and included 28 statements
that measure the directors’ level of agreement in providing nutrition
education. Cumulative frequencies and factor analysis were used for
Forty percent of directors reported providing no nutrition education
during the school year, while 26% provided one to ten hours and 28%
provided less than one hour of nutrition education per school year.
The top three nutrition education resources used by the directors were
materials from: 1) Dairy Council; 2) Team Nutrition Scholastics; and
3) School Lunch Menus. Ninety-seven percent of directors agreed that
nutrition education should be a part of elementary school curriculum,
with 65% agreeing that it was their role to provide nutrition education
and 70% agreeing they were adequately trained to provide nutrition
education. Only 22% of directors agreed that there was adequate funding
to support nutrition education.
For nutrition education to be successful in the school setting, it must
be implemented in an environment that fosters a team approach that
involves all stakeholders, including foodservice directors, teachers,
school administrators, parents, and students. It is also important
that state curriculum standards address nutrition education in order
for stakeholders to incorporate the topic into the educational experience.
Additionally, training is needed for directors to increase their confidence
and competence in the area of nutrition education. Directors can take
a proactive approach in their professional development by possessing
a credential that acknowledges ownership of the competencies, knowledge,
and skills needed to promote a healthy nutrition environment.
PERCEPTIONS OF ADEQUACY OF AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAM
PERFORMANCE TO SUPPORT ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE NSLP SNACK SERVICE
Jerry Cater, PhD; and Denise Brown, PhD, RD, LD; NFSMI Applied Research
Division, The University of Southern Mississippi
The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act of 1998 enhanced nutrition benefits
for school children by authorizing reimbursement for National School
Lunch Program (NSLP) snacks served in qualified after-school programs.
This study compared the school foodservice administrators’ and
after-school program coordinators’ perceptions of the adequacy
of the program coordinators’ job performance to support accountability
requirements for the NSLP snack service.
A survey was mailed nationwide to 623 school foodservice administrators
and 1,206 program coordinators. Participants were selected randomly
from school districts participating in the after-school NLSP snack
service during the 2002-03 school year. Responses were analyzed using
descriptive statistics. A five-point Likert-type scale, where 1=strongly
disagree and 5=strongly agree, was used to examine accountability factors.
These factors focused on the program coordinators’ awareness
of accountability requirements and their level of performance when
Results indicated that both foodservice administrators and program coordinators
believed program coordinators were providing adequate documentation
and were sufficiently aware of program requirements. Both groups indicated
a high level of agreement for the program coordinators’ adequacy
of job performance pertaining to the two factors: “accurate snack
counts are provided by due date” (4.4) and “NSLP snacks
served are reconciled with daily attendance records” (4.3). The
two awareness factors receiving high ratings by both groups were “program
coordinators are aware that accurate daily snack counts are required
to receive federal reimbursement” (4.6) and “only one snack
per child per day can be reimbursed” (4.5). The performance factor
believed to be least adequate was “program coordinators reconcile
the number of snacks served plus left-over snacks with the number of
snacks received.” The factor rated 3.9 among foodservice administrators
and 3.9 among program coordinators.
Findings from this study can be used to develop job expectation guides
to help after-school program sponsors and program coordinators improve
implementation of a NSLP snack service.
SELF-PERCEPTION PROFIILES OF RURAL AFRICAN AMERICAN BOYS
Vicky Elliott MS, RD, LD; NFSMI Applied Research Division, The University
of Southern Mississippi
Ecological systems theory conceptualizes that there are developing children
in a Mississippi community that has both the highest national rate
of overweight individuals and a school system reporting almost 27%
of first-graders and 40% of the eighth-graders as overweight or at
risk of being overweight. Research suggests that low self-confidence
is linked to a child’s overweight status. The purpose of this
study was to pilot test a psychometric tool, the Self-Perception Profile
for Children, in African Americans. The objective was to examine if
the perceived domain means differed by age or from the profile norms.
The Self-Perception Profile for Children (SPPC) is a 35-item questionnaire
measuring six domains of “self-concept” with historical
reliability, validity, and norms. School officials permitted administration
by randomly assigning two after-school classrooms, resulting in a sample
of 23 African-American boys. A descriptive comparative study design
captured the domains as dependent variables and age as the independent
variable. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) procedure was performed
with a statistical significance of p<.05.
The mean age was 9.5 with four age levels: 8, 9, 10, and 11 years. Perceived
domain means by age did not differ significantly. Group domain means
resembled the profile norms. These results show the SPPC is an effective
tool for use with African-American boys. Intriguingly, four of the
six domain means, (scholastic competence, social acceptance, behavioral
conduct, and global self-worth) were higher than the norms.
The sample limited the study, but simultaneously fostered confidence
in the use of the SPPC tool in future ecological investigations linking
self-concept to dietary behavior similar to that of school meal participation
and obesity among Mississippi children. The sharing of this pilot test
informs and empowers school foodservice professionals with new knowledge.
REVISED COMPETENCY RESEARCH INDICATES AN INCREASE IN ESSENTIAL KNOWLEDGE
AND SKILLS NECESSARY FOR ENTRY LEVEL SCHOOL NUTRITION MANAGERS
Deborah Carr, PhD, RD, LD; Jerry Cater, PhD; and Vicky Elliott MS, RD,
LD; NFSMI Applied Research Division, The University of Southern Mississippi
School nutrition managers working within the guidelines of the National
School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program are faced with many
forms of accountability that assure program integrity and tackle environmental
changes in an effort to contribute to the success of their respective
districts’ school nutrition program. Researchers finalized a
three-phase research project to revise the competencies, knowledge,
and skill statements of school nutrition managers to reflect the current
environment in which they perform daily job duties. This revision determined
which statements are essential for entry-level and beyond entry-level
positions. The 1995 version of Competencies, Knowledge, and Skills
of Effective School Nutrition Manager served as the foundation for
A national panel of school nutrition professionals (n=38) responded to
a survey developed from the 1995 version of the competency, knowledge,
and skill statements. Study participants took part in regional work
group sessions, validating 206 statements challenged by the survey.
Gap analysis identified areas for new statements. New statements were
developed and validated by study participants, following a survey process.
The revised document describes 12 functional areas, 35 competencies,
and 526 knowledge and skill statements. Findings reported an 18% increase
in statements concerning the level of requisite knowledge and skills
at the entry level, with 65% of the revised statements rating important
for an entry-level school nutrition manager.
The information will assist the National Foodservice Management Institute,
U.S. Department of Agriculture, state agencies, and other professional
groups to design training that is appropriate for school nutrition
managers. Additionally, the information will provide a framework of
well-defined competencies, knowledge, and skills to assist educators
in developing curriculum and professional development opportunities
designed specifically for the entry-level and experienced school nutrition
manger. The ability to descriptively characterize the competencies,
knowledge, and skills for these professionals provides essential information
for selecting, developing, and coaching future school nutrition managers.
GEORGIA QUALITY MEASURE NEEDS ASSESSMENT SURVEY FOR SCHOOLS
Carrie Lynn Davis, PhD; James Bason, PhD; and Annette B. Hopgood, M.Ed,
LD; Georgia Department of Education
The purpose of this research was to conduct a needs assessment to identify
areas of training and technical assistance to local school systems,
to gather data for strategic-planning purposes, and to bring more awareness
to the best practices necessary for quality school nutrition programs.
The objective of this research was to: 1) identify practices that local
personnel perceive to be of the highest importance in program management;
2) list practices that local personnel anticipate will change during
the next three years; 3) identify practices perceived to be of the
highest importance but lowest in program implementation; and 4) target
the use of resources for the long-range planning of training and technical
Scannable surveys were mailed to all school superintendents (n=190),
all nutrition directors (n=190), randomly selected principals (n=315),
and nutrition managers (n=315). The survey included 50 and 55 questions
for Superintendents/School Nutrition Directors and Principals/Nutrition
Managers, respectively. Respondents were asked about the current level
of implementation (high, medium, low, and don’t know) and anticipated
change in emphasis (more, same, less, and don’t know) over the
next three years. All questions, with the exception of three, were
directly from the Quality Measures for Georgia’s School Nutrition
Of the 1,010 surveys mailed, 517 (51.2%) useable surveys were returned,
with Superintendents/Nutrition Directors returning 246 (47.6%) and
Principals/Nutrition Managers returning 271 (52.4%). Across both groups,
current reported levels of implementation are high, but in both cases,
significant numbers of respondents anticipate more change during the
next three years in attempting to implement the Quality Measures.
This needs assessment provided data for the state agency’s Long
Range Planning Conference with local directors, managers, state association
leaders, healthcare professionals, and school and community leaders.
Increased attention should be paid to promoting change from current levels
of implementation in an attempt to increase Quality Measures in certain
areas in the future.
IMPLEMENTATION OF A RECESS-BEFORE-LUNCH POLICY IN FOUR MONTANA ELEMENTARY
SCHOOLS BRINGS POSITIVE CHANGES IN STUDENT FOOD CONSUMPTION AND DISCIPLINE
Chris Emerson, MS, RD; Molly Stenberg, RD; and Katie Bark, RD; Montana
Office of Public Instruction
In order to provide a pleasant eating experience for children and encourage
adequate food intake during lunchtime, the Montana Team Nutrition Program
was interested in exploring a recess-before-lunch policy for elementary
schools through a pilot study done from Spring 2002 to Spring 2003.
The purpose of this study was to assess changes in food and beverage
waste and overall acceptance by students, staff, and administrators
after the implementation of a recess-before-lunch policy.
Four schools were chosen based on their interest in implementing the
recess before lunch policy. These schools represented four specific
different grade level ranges in central, western, and northern Montana.
The study consisted of different phases, the first being when the school
followed a lunch-before-recess policy and the second after a recess-before-lunch
policy was implemented. Each phase included a plate waste study, student
focus group, and staff surveys to help evaluate changes in student
consumption and acceptance level by students and staff.
Study results indicated a decrease in the average amount of food and
beverage wasted per student. The overall acceptance by staff was very
favorable as positive improvements in the cafeteria, playground, and
classroom discipline and attention span also occurred. After the initial
adjustment, the staff also felt the cafeteria atmosphere was much more
relaxed, quiet, and conducive to eating.
An implementation guide was developed and posted on the state agency
Web site. The guide, which included the results and lessons learned
from this study, can be used by schools across the nation in exploring
the use of this policy in elementary schools to improve the dining
experience and nutritional intake of children. A 2001 USDA Team Nutrition
Training Grant awarded to the Montana Office of Public Instruction
funded this project.