Published: December 2016

ID #: CAS038

Publisher: Berkeley Media Studies Group

Authors: Nixon L, Gardin K, Seklir L, Gottlieb M, Dorfman L

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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.

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