School Nutrition Policies and Practices on an American Indian Reservation: Research and Policy Considerations

Regina S. Eddie, Carolyn Montoya, Jennifer Averill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Navajo (Diné) and other American Indian children are more affected by overweight and obesity than their U.S. counterparts. In this descriptive study, the authors combined a socioecological and Navajo cultural framework to analyze the various factors that influence food choices available to children in schools. The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 updated nutrition standards for school meals and all other foods and beverages sold in schools. Some studies have shown that improved nutrition standards were not favorably received by students and school food programs. To better understand these broader trends in a Navajo context, the researcher administered in-person surveys to 6 principals and 14 food service workers from a sample of 6 schools and performed on-site observations of two schools. Data were analyzed using a combination of descriptive statistics, matrix analysis, and thematic analysis techniques. Results showed that schools were offering more healthy food options in school lunches and that some schools were still serving unhealthy foods, such as pizza, tater tots, and French fries. Classroom and fundraising events provided other sources for low-nutrient foods and beverages. Participants had mixed responses about the updated nutrition standards, and food waste of healthy foods was a major concern. This study proposes opportunities for nurses to engage in research and advance stronger policies that increase healthy food options and limit access to less healthy foods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-81
Number of pages11
JournalPolicy, Politics, and Nursing Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • American Indians
  • child
  • food services
  • obesity
  • overweight
  • surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects


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