To understand how advocates, schools, the food industry, policymakers, and others have shaped discussions about school nutrition at the state and local level since the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA), Berkeley Media Studies Group and the Public Health Advocacy Institute systematically examined news coverage and legislative and regulatory documents from 11 states. They analyzed how school meal and competitive food guidelines debates have been framed at the local and state level, who spoke about the guidelines and what they said, and how arguments and framing differed between states and between the news and legislative testimony. The news analysis found that most coverage was about implementation of nutrition guidelines for school meals. In contrast, the legislative and regulatory analysis found that the debate focused on competitive foods, and two-thirds of policy documents argued in favor of the guidelines. State and local food policy actions received the most positive news coverage, while federal guidelines drew the most opposition. School nutrition staff members were the most active speakers in the news about school food and in legislative and regulatory documents addressing nutrition guidelines, and discussed the guidelines positively. Students, federal elected officials, school administrators, and teachers were mostly critical of the nutrition guidelines in the news coverage studied.
Examining the Public Debate on School Food Nutrition Guidelines: Findings and Lessons Learned from an Analysis of News Coverage and Legislative Debates in 11 States
Examining State and Local-level Debates about School Nutrition Guidelines since the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act
The purpose of this project is to understand how advocates, the food industry, policymakers, and others have shaped discussions about school nutrition at the state and local level since the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) by systematically examining news coverage and legislative documents from selected states. The … 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
In the next year, an estimated 1 in 4 children will experience food insecurity (up from 1 in 6, pre-pandemic), disproportionately impacting children in low-income households and racial/ethnic minorities. To mediate loss of school meals during closures and reduce COVID-19 exposure, Congress authorized the USDA to permit local education authorities … More