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Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools: Leading the Way Toward Healthier Youth
products offered à la carte and via vending machines, stores, and snack bars are consistent with the recommended standards; and
products used in celebrations, fund-raising, and after-school activities are consistent with the standards.
While many of the foregoing identify decisions and actions needed at the state and federal levels, the success with which the recommended standards are translated into improved diets for school-age children depends on the ability and willingness of schools and school districts to implement them. Actions that facilitate this process are discussed below.
A responsible party such as the school wellness policy administrator may assume the task of ensuring compliance with nutrition standards. This work may be facilitated by the development of federal or state programs such as a Nutrition-Friendly Schools Initiative to encourage compliance and certify those schools that have fully complied with the recommended nutrition standards. Compliance can be verified and progress assessed by health educators, local health departments, or other outside stakeholders with similar expertise. In addition, schools might seek assistance from relevant state agencies, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) staff, USDA regional offices, and qualified local organizations and agencies. Such assistance and collaboration would be greatly facilitated if state and federal agencies specifically earmarked funds for this purpose.
Changes in Food Sources
Positive changes in the food and beverage sources during the extended school day, including reformulating products to comply with the recommended standards and improving the nutrient composition of school-age children’s diets, are the expected outcomes from implementation of the recommended nutrition standards. However, to ensure the success of the intended outcomes, it is important that benchmarking become a part of the implementation process.
One of the committee’s assigned tasks was to develop benchmarks to guide future evaluation studies of the application of the recommended standards. In this report, the term “benchmarks” refers to the key elements of standards implementation and impact that would be most useful to evaluate.
The committee anticipates that the potential impact of the standards will be carefully considered by school districts, researchers from a number of related disciplines, and government agencies at the state and federal lev-