Comprehensive Nutrition Services Are Vital to Children's Health, Says Joint Position Paper from American Dietetic Association, School Nutrition Association and Society for Nutrition Education
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CHICAGO – School meal programs play a significant role in keeping children healthy and are “the anchor” of comprehensive school nutrition services that improve children’s nutritional status, health and academic performance, according to an updated joint position paper from the American Dietetic Association, the School Nutrition Association and the Society for Nutrition Education.
The updated position paper, published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, represents the official stance of ADA, the School Nutrition Association and the Society for Nutrition Education on comprehensive school nutrition services:
It is the position of the American Dietetic Association, School Nutrition Association and Society for Nutrition Education that comprehensive, integrated nutrition services in schools, kindergarten through grade 12, are an essential component of coordinated school health programs that will improve the nutritional status, health and academic performance of our nation’s children. Local school wellness policies may strengthen comprehensive nutrition services in schools by providing opportunities for multidisciplinary teams to identify and address local school needs.
The joint ADA/SNA/SNE position paper was written by registered dietitians Marilyn Briggs, co-director of the Center for Nutrition in Schools at University of California – Davis (ADA); Constance G. Mueller, retired from the Bloomington (Ill.) Public Schools District 87 (SNA); and Sheila Fleischhacker, nutrition postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina (SNE).
“Since its passage in 1946, the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act has defined the purpose of the program to ‘safeguard the health and well-being of the nation’s children.’ School meal programs continue to play a significant role in safeguarding the health and well-being of American children and are the anchor of comprehensive nutrition services in schools,” the authors write.
The American Dietetic Association and its Foundation’s have long been committed to improving the school nutrition environment for children. In November, ADA and its Foundation are officially launching their first joint initiative, Kids Eat Right. This campaign is aimed at mobilizing ADA members to participate in community and school childhood obesity prevention efforts, and also to educate families, communities, and policy makers about the importance of high-quality nutrition. Kids Eat Right will provide members with the resources to become more recognized leaders in childhood obesity prevention and to raise the awareness of the need to help children meet their nutrient requirements.
ADA’s School Nutrition Services dietetic practice group has over 1,100 members working in school districts, federal and state agencies, business and industry, and colleges and universities, all dedicated to the integrity and promotion of school meal programs and the advancement of sound nutrition for children. And ADA’s Pediatric Nutrition practice group consists of more than 3,000 ADA members, primarily registered dietitians, who are dedicated to the vital role of good nutrition in the growth and development of infants, children and adolescents.
To maximize the impact of school wellness policies on strengthening comprehensive, integrated nutrition services throughout the country, the joint position of ADA, SNA and SNE recommends specific strategies for schools and communities to follow in areas including:
- Nutrition education and promotion
- Food and nutrition programs available on the school campus
- School-home community partnerships
- Nutrition-related health services.
The authors write: “Maintaining a long tradition of working together, ADA, SNA and SNE will continue to advocate for positive actions to improve students’ nutritional status, health and academic performance. Additional professional organizations, advocacy groups and stakeholders, with shared issues and values, are encouraged to join in supporting practices and research increasing the effectiveness of comprehensive school nutrition services.”
The American Dietetic Association is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org.