Nutrition Policies, Practices, and Environments in Low-Income Georgia Elementary Schools, United States, 2015-2017


Guglielmo, D.; Chantaprasopsuk, S.; Kay, C.M.; Hyde, E.T.; Stewart, C.; Gazmararian, J.A.


BACKGROUND: A nutritious diet can prevent obesity and chronic disease and improve academic performance, yet many children have energy-dense, nutrient-poor diets. The objective of this study was to assess nutrition policies, practices, and environments in Georgia Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) elementary schools and compare them across school-level demographic characteristics. METHODS: We distributed a cross-sectional online survey to administrators, grade level chairs, and nutrition managers from 113 Georgia SNAP-Ed elementary schools during 2015–2017. Logistic regression, one-way ANOVA, and Tukey's tests were performed to assess differences by free and reduced-price lunch eligibility and percentage black. Fisher's exact and Rao-Scott chi-square tests were performed to assess differences by school size and geography. RESULTS: The majority of schools established wellness policies and committees, provided nutrition education, and offered fresh fruits and/or vegetables daily. Fewer schools had policies limiting sugar-sweetened foods within classrooms or had established a school garden. There were minimal significant differences in survey responses across school-level demographics. CONCLUSIONS: Georgia SNAP-Ed elementary schools are providing healthy nutrition settings for their students in a number of areas, and can further improve by establishing more comprehensive wellness policies, a committee to enforce them, and engaging children in hands-on nutrition education activities. © 2020, American School Health Association