els. Evaluation at the local level may enable school districts to document successes and to identify potential problems and devise solutions. Broader evaluation at the state and federal levels, and evaluations that may be more scientifically rigorous, will help to inform local, state, and national policy action on the recommended nutrition standards for schools. The evaluation process can be as simple as the development of a descriptive assessment checklist for key stakeholders in local school districts, or as complex as a meticulous pre- and post-intervention appraisal that is conducted as part of university research or as part of a broader evaluation at the state or federal level.
School districts, states, stakeholder organizations, and researchers may wish to discuss the potential for these evaluation options at the time that they plan the implementation of the new policies. It is advisable to examine the impact of the standards after they have been in place for at least one school year.
In order for the recommended nutrition standards to be adopted, key decision-makers must be informed of the policy and understand its contents and likely outcomes. These decision-makers include some or all of the following individuals and groups: school personnel, especially those responsible for food acquisition and preparation; parents and parent organizations; school boards; school district administrators; state agencies and legislatures; key members of Congress and their staffs; federal agencies, especially USDA and CDC; and food and beverage producers and vendors. Important benchmarks to consider are the breadth and depth of the awareness and understanding of the nutrition standards by stakeholders and policymakers, and the extent to which the full policy is adopted and accepted. Key issues that might be examined include the use of the specific standards for foods and beverages; place-and-time rules; determination of whether the standards were used according to age group; observations on the practicality/impracticality of various aspects of the policy; and views on policy implementation barriers at the district or school level.
Other related questions may include, How well accepted is the policy among students (at different ages), parents, teachers, and the broader community? How are policies monitored and by whom? How well enforced is the policy in the day-to-day world of school? What are the specific enforcement issues, if any? What school-related factors explain the ease or difficulty of change?
Other benchmarks may include cataloging decisions at all levels of government that implement the recommended nutrition standards. Appropriate questions to consider are the following: