Elaine McDonnell, project coordinator who led the study, says, "Competitive foods are those sold on K through 12 school campuses that compete with school meals. Currently, school meals must meet nutrient standards and the Dietary Guidelines but competitive foods are only minimally regulated and are often low in nutritional value."
The competitive food regulatory situation is, however, mandated for change. The new law requires sponsors of school meal programs to develop wellness polices by the 2006-2007 school year that address childhood obesity. Local communities must develop nutrition guidelines for all foods and beverages sold on their high school and elementary school campuses, including competitive foods offered as a la carte items, in vending machines, in school stores and through school fundraisers and parties.
McDonnell notes, "Wellness policy development has been mandated to parents, students, school food authorities, school boards, school administrators and the public. It offers a wonderful opportunity and impetus for local communities and schools to become pro-active in combating childhood obesity."
The researchers detail their results in a paper, "School Competitive Food Policies: Perceptions of Pennsylvania Public High School Foodservice Directors and Principals," in the current (February) issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. The authors are McDonnell, Dr. Claudia Probart, associate professor of nutritional sciences, J. Elaine Weirich, project coordinator, Dr. Terryl Hartman, associate professor of nutritional sciences and Lisa Bailey-Davis, director of operations, Pennsylv
Contact: Barbara Hale