Research findings indicated that there were challenges in meeting special food and/or nutrition needs in the school setting and in providing staff with the appropriate training on these issues (Molaison & Nettles, 2008).In an effort to determine quality indicators that address the roles and responsibilities of SN programs serving students with special food and/or nutrition needs, a best practices research project ensued.According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; 2006), 17% of children under the age of 18 have a developmental disability, and consequently require a food substitution or modification to the regular school breakfast, school lunch, and/or after school snack.Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires SN programs to accommodate children with disabilities and/or conditions who have a diet prescription/order from a licensed physician (United States Department of Agriculture [USDA], 2001).Research has shown an increase in the prevalence of overweight or obese children and adolescents over the last two decades, placing them at a higher risk for other chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia (Dietz, 1998; Freedman, Khan, Dietz, Srinivasan, & Berenson, 2001; Hedley et al., 2004).As disabilities and chronic conditions among children continue to rise, the responsibilities of SN programs are expanding.Current estimations indicate more than 2.2 million school-aged children suffer with food allergies.From 1997 to 2002, peanut allergies doubled among children under the age of 18 (Sicherer, Munoz-Furlong, & Sampson, 2003).
Applications to Child Nutrition Professionals The is a self-assessment tool for SN professionals to assess their operation based on the identified best practices.
The information received from Phase I was used to revise and format the draft best practice resource prior to sending it to the review panel in Phase II.
A national review panel consisting of SN directors and representatives from state agencies, the American Dietetic Association (ADA) School Nutrition Services (SNS) practice group, and NFSMI evaluated the resource for content clarity, accuracy, and usability, and provided comments and suggestions that were incorporated into the final best practice resource.
In Phase I, an expert panel of SN professionals and a school nurse identified goal themes and best practice statements, grouped similar statements within the four practice categories, and provided formatting suggestions for the best practice resource.
In Phase II, a national review panel evaluated the best practice statements, goal statements, and draft resource.