Introduction: The “Smart Snacks in School” regulation was due for implementation July 1, 2014; however, national studies suggest that schools may be struggling to meet this deadline, particularly at the high school level. Further, ongoing monitoring and enforcement remains an inherently complex task due to the many venues where snack items are sold. There are limited evidence and conceptual frameworks to inform efforts of how on-the-books policies are translated into school practices and continually monitored for compliance.
Methods: A multiple-case study—including semi-structured interviews (n=39) and internal documents—was conducted to identify critical factors of implementation and monitoring for compliance. A wide range of stakeholders were interviewed, including but not limited to food service directors (FSDs), principals, athletic directors, nurses, and teachers. Internal documents included newsletters, websites, and local newspaper articles. Transcripts and documents were coded in Atlas.ti (v7) with a doctoral-level second coder. Cross-case analysis was guided by Yin (2009) and Miles, Huberman, and Saldaña (2014). Measures to enhance trustworthiness were built into the study design, following Lincoln and Guba (1985).
Results: An adapted conceptual framework exploring snack policy implementation was created. Implementation heavily depended upon the FSD, who assumed the role of the actor most responsible for implementation (i.e., implementing actor). Although these actors traditionally have low power in the school district, they leveraged varying sources of power to engage other actors in optimal interactions and move the implementation process forward. Further, even in high schools with strong snack practices, challenges with monitoring and ongoing enforcement of the policy were prevalent. States can play a strong role in facilitating implementation through technical assistance and adoption of strong state laws.
Discussion and Conclusion: This study offers a range of policy and practice opportunities at federal, state, and local school-district levels to facilitate snack policy implementation. Further, ongoing monitoring is invaluable to maintaining the integrity of school food environments; best practice strategies for implementation and continued enforcement are discussed. It is a critical time to generate evidence using strong theoretical frameworks in order to support schools struggling towards snack reform.
|School:||University of Illinois at Chicago|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||DAI-B 77/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Nutrition policy, Public health policy, School nutrition|
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