Introduction: The purpose of this study is to examine the impact of a districtwide food best practices and preparation changes in elementary schools lunches, implemented as part of the LiveWell@School childhood obesity program, funded by LiveWell Colorado/Kaiser Permanente Community Health Initiative. Methods: Longitudinal study examining how school changes in best practices for food preparation impacted the types of side items offered from 2009 to 2015 in elementary school cafeterias in a high-need school district in southern Colorado. Specifically, this study examined changes in side items (fruits, vegetables, potatoes, breads, and desserts). In Phase 1 (2009–2010), baseline data were collected. During Phase 2 (2010–2011), breaded and processed foods (e.g., frozen nuggets, pre-packaged pizza) were removed and school chefs were trained on scratch cooking methods. Phase 3 (2011–2012) saw an increased use of fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables after a new commodity order. During Phase 4 (2013–2015), chef consulting and training took place. The frequency of side offerings was tracked across phases. Analyses were completed in Fall 2016. Because of limited sample sizes, data from Phases 2 to 4 (intervention phases) were combined for potatoes and desserts. Descriptive statistics were calculated. After adjusting for length of time for each phase, Pearson chi-square tests were conducted to examine changes in offerings of side items by phase. Results: Fresh fruit offerings increased and canned fruit decreased in Phases 1–4 (p=0.001). A significant difference was observed for vegetables (p=0.001), with raw and steamed vegetables increasing and canned vegetables decreasing from Phase 1 to 4. Fresh potatoes (low in sodium) increased and fried potatoes (high in sodium) decreased from Phase 1 to Phases 2–4 (p=0.001). Breads were eliminated entirely in Phase 2, and dessert changes were not significant (p=0.927). Conclusions: This approach to promoting healthier lunch sides is a promising paradigm for improving elementary cafeteria food offerings. Supplement information: This article is part of a supplement entitled Building Thriving Communities Through Comprehensive Community Health Initiatives, which is sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, Community Health.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health