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Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?
percent of the schools (Kann et al., 2005). In future SHP surveys, it will be important to track trends in the type of foods and beverages available for purchase by students.
Despite all the attention being paid to improving the nutritional quality of the foods and beverages provided in schools, however, the committee heard at the Wichita symposium that food service managers face ongoing challenges in improving school nutrition. These include insufficient funding, the use of sole-source contracts, open campuses where students can choose to leave schools to eat, a lack of nutrition education, short meal periods, and competition with vending machine options (Appendix F). Other barriers that food service managers face include preferences for fast foods, carbonated soft drinks, and salty snacks; the mixed messages sent by school personnel; and school food preparation and serving space limitations (Gross and Cinelli, 2004).
At the more local level, individual schools and school districts have made innovative changes to their menus, food sales, and beverage choices (Box 7-4) (Kojima et al., 2002). One of the challenges, however, has been in disseminating that information. The Produce for Better Health Foundation, in conjunction with 5 a Day and Fresh from Florida, has compiled promo-
Key Considerations in Improving School Foods andBeverages from the Minneapolis Public Schools Food ServicePresentation at the IOM Symposium on Schools
Ensure that Minneapolis Public School students have access to nutritious meals and ensure that nutritional and cultural needs of the diverse community are met.
Meet or exceed USDA standards for nutrition requirements, food safety, and food security (offering more fresh fruits and vegetables, more whole grains). For example, a free “fixin’s bar” that provides fresh vegetables and salsa can be added outside the serving area so students can help themselves.
Broaden community involvement by establishing and maintaining Nutrition Advisory Councils, conducting student and parent annual surveys, and providing school meal and nutrition information on the school’s website.
Establish nutrition standards for à la carte items, considering portion size, and sugar and fat content.
Form partnerships with local universities and technical colleges, local extension agencies, and state and county health departments.
Evaluations can include tracking what students are selecting and consuming; conducting annual student/parents/staff surveys; and using input from partnerships.