Few studies examine why rural public schools have weaker policies and practices related to school nutrition environments compared to their urban counterparts. It is important to understand this disparity because federal school meal standards aim for children to access health‐promoting nutrition environments. In this study, we identify challenges and opportunities for the implementation of school meal standards in rural high schools. We interviewed 38 rural school professionals from 22 high schools across 7 states. School professionals included food service directors, principals, school nurses, and teachers. Overall, school professionals described improvements with implementation experiences and student acceptance over time. Key challenges included the negative influences of home and community food environments and limited staff size and capacity. Key opportunities involved joining co‐ops to enhance purchasing power, leveraging state technical assistance, and forming external partnerships. This study offers insights from a broad range of rural school professionals’ implementation experiences. The findings can inform governments and technical assistance agencies working with rural schools and school districts to facilitate implementation and sustainability of initiatives.
Addressing Equity in Rural Schools: Opportunities and Challenges for School Meal Standards Implementation
Informing Rural Schools’ Efforts to Sustainably Implement Revised Federal Standards for School Meals and Snacks
Recent federal policies for revised school meals and Smart Snacks standards aimed for all children to have equitable access to health-promoting food environments. However, studies indicate that rural school, particularly at the secondary level, are lagging behind urban schools in the quality of policies and practices. The aims of this … More
Special Issue on School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study-I: Findings Related to Improving Diet Quality, Weight, and Disparities in U.S. Children
School meals are important contributors to the healthy diets of our nation’s children, especially those in food insecure households, according to new papers published in a special issue of the journal Nutrients. The papers address urgent policy challenges related to food security, childhood obesity, sugar consumption, and racial and ethnic … More
Strong nutrition standards for school meals, consistent with evidence-based recommendations, position children for optimal health and wellbeing. Strong science supports the link between lowering sodium intake and better health. This new issue brief from Healthy Eating Research examines the recent history of sodium standards for school meals. It highlights current sodium intake … More