McDonnell ET, Probart CK, Orlofsky C.
Purpose: The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 mandated that school districts develop local wellness policies (LWPs) to address childhood obesity by July 2006. This study was undertaken to describe school employees' involvement in the LWP development process, assess satisfaction with LWPs, identify concerns related to implementation, and identify strategies to facilitate successful policy implementation. Methods: A 39-item survey instrument was developed and distributed to 150 participants following five presentations. Descriptive statistics were done using SPSS software (SPSS base 11.5 for Windows, 2002, SPSS Inc. Chicago, IL.

Results: One hundred surveys were returned (response rate = 66.7%). Respondents included school foodservice directors (SFDs) (26%), other school foodservice (SFS) employees (52%), teachers (6%), and other job titles (13%). Approximately half (45%) of respondents and 89% of SFDs indicated involvement in LWP development. Of those not involved, 57% were not familiar with the policy, including 63% of other SFS employees. Respondents who were involved in policy development were fairly satisfied with the policy (mean=3.9 ± 1.0, on a 5-point scale with 5 being very satisfied). Top concerns about implementation were related to cost, support from key stakeholders, and enforcement. Needs were identified related to communication of data demonstrating links between LWPs and both students health and academic achievement.

Conclusions: Findings suggest the need to market LWPs to the entire school community, communicate data related to positive student outcomes, establish clear plans for policy enforcement, and identify cost-neutral strategies for policy implementation.