Rural disparities in health behaviors and weight status jeopardize the well-being of millions of Americans. Compared to urban children, rural children have higher rates of obesity and consume more calories, less fruit, and fewer vegetables. A health-promoting school environment can modify risk behaviors, and periodic assessment of school environments provides crucial information about opportunities for improvement, but national surveillance options are limited. There is also a need to gather nuanced information about the factors that support or limit implementation of systems changes at rural schools. The Food and Fitness survey, part of the RWJF-funded Bridging the Gap Research Program, surveyed a nationally-representative sample of 640 public elementary schools in 2013-14. This project will re-survey schools to examine changes between 2013-14 and 2019-20, with a sample large enough to examine disparities. Aims are to: 1) examine changes in school practices between 2013-14 and 2019-20; and 2) identify the unique strengths and challenges of rural schools, through collection of qualitative data in a purposive sample.
Conducting a Large-Scale Surveillance of Public School Environments to Advance Wellness-Related Practices, With a Focus on Rural Schools
Improving Access to Free School Meals: Addressing Intersections Between Universal Free School Meal Approaches and Educational Funding
Free and reduced price meal application data are used to allocate billions of dollars annually in education funding. However, schools serving universal free meals under the Community Eligibility Provision meal service option or USDA’s COVID-19 waivers do not typically collect school meal applications. The loss of this data has caused … More
Schools play a vital role in promoting children’s health and well-being. In the United States, schools contribute significantly to children’s overall diet quality and can provide up to half of their daily calories, especially among children from low-income families. Providing healthy school meals for all is a policy opportunity to … More
Strengthening the Impact of USDA’s Child Nutrition Summer Feeding Programs During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic
To address food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, utilization of the USDA child nutrition summer feeding programs has drastically increased. Given the unprecedented use of the summer feeding programs, this research brief will (1) explain the meal pattern requirements and select operational differences between the summer feeding programs and the … More