National study of school district policies and elementary school practices addressing childhood obesity

In 2004, the United States Congress mandated that all schools receiving federal funding for school breakfast and lunch programs must implement wellness policies by the start of the 2006-2007 school year. The wellness policies were to include at a minimum, goals for increased nutrition education and physical activity, and other school activities designed to promote wellness; nutritional guidelines for all foods and beverages served at the school; and assurance that school meals will meet existing requirements of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). With this renewal funding, the project will continue to collect and report comprehensive information on the school environment for both food and physical activity. Through a representative national sample of 580 elementary schools, the project will survey school administrators and food service personnel about the school conditions related to food and physical activity. In addition, the survey will once again obtain the schools' written wellness policies in order to assess change and to compare the written policies to actual practice. Identifying challenges and opportunities through the continuing analysis of this data set will permit the Foundation's Childhood Obesity Portfolio to assess progress on two performance indicators. The findings will assist the Foundation's Healthy Schools Program and other school-oriented RWJF investments identify and address specific barriers to improving the school-wellness environment. In addition, neither the USDA nor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention undertake annual tracking of the school environment through a representative sample, so the project may help to stimulate federal action and national advocacy. The deliverables are: (1) quarterly updates on the status of wellness policies and their implementation; and (2) analysis of the associations between policies and practices at the school level and district- and state-level policies, school finances and school and community characteristics.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $740,150.00

Awarded on: 1/30/2008

Time frame: 2/1/2008 - 11/30/2008

Grant Number: 63689


University of Illinois at Chicago

601 South Morgan Street
Chicago, 60607-7100


Frank Joseph Chaloupka
Project Director