This study is the first to examine the association between state laws, school district policies, and the availability of unhealthy snack foods and beverages in U.S. public elementary schools. Researchers assessed the types of foods and beverages offered in vending machines, à la carte lines, and stores in a nationwide sample of schools between 2008–09 and 2010–11.
Currently the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to improve its rule on school snack foods and beverages. The findings from this study confirm the need for strong federal standards because so many states and districts do not have specific nutritional guidelines for school snacks and beverages.
Bridging the Gap, a research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, collects annual data on state laws, district policies, and elementary school-level practices related to school snack foods and beverages.