To assess the opinions and beliefs of parents and teachers of middle school students regarding the school food environment. Surveys mailed to parents and placed in teachers' school mailboxes included questions about adolescents' eating practices, food choice at school, and school-related food policies and practices. A convenience sample of parents (n=350; response rate: 350/526=66%) and teachers (n=490; response rate: 490/701=70%) of middle school students from 16 schools in the St Paul-Minneapolis metropolitan area who participated in the Teens Eating for Energy and Nutrition at School study. Descriptive statistics examined the prevalence of parents' and teachers' opinions and beliefs about adolescents' eating practices, food choice at school, and school-related food policies and practices. Most parents and teachers agreed that the nutritional health of students should be a school priority. However, only 18% of parents and 31% of teachers believed schools give adequate attention to student nutrition. Among both parents and teachers, 90% agreed that more healthy snacks and beverages should be available in school vending machines and on school a la carte lines. Findings suggest that parents and teachers are concerned about the nutritional health of students and the "state of health" of the school food environment. Dietetic and other health professionals who work in school settings should actively engage parents and teachers in the process of affecting and monitoring policies and practices that foster a healthy school food environment.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the National Cancer Insitute: 5R01 CA71943–03 and from the Minnesota Obesity Center.