School food policies and practices: a state-wide survey of secondary school principals.
OBJECTIVE: To describe food-related policies and practices in secondary schools in Minnesota. DESIGN: Mailed anonymous survey including questions about the secondary school food environment and food-related practices and policies. SUBJECTS/SETTING: Members of a statewide professional organization for secondary school principals (n = 610; response rate: 463/610 = 75%). Of the 463 surveys returned, 336 met the eligibility criteria (current position was either principal or assistant principal and school included at least one of the grades of 9 through 12). STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: Descriptive statistics examined the prevalence of specific policies and practices. Chi2 analysis examined associations between policies and practices and school variables. RESULTS: Among principals, 65% believed it was important to have a nutrition policy for the high school; however, only 32% reported a policy at their school. Principals reported positive attitudes about providing a healthful school food environment, but 98% of the schools had soft drink vending machines and 77% had contracts with soft drink companies. Food sold at school fundraisers was most often candy, fruit, and cookies. APPLICATIONS: Dietetics professionals who work in secondary school settings should collaborate with other key school staff members and parents to develop and implement a comprehensive school nutrition policy. Such a policy could foster a school food environment that is supportive of healthful food choices among youth.
French, SA; Story, M; Fulkerson, JA
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