NUTRITION ENVIRONMENT SURVEY DEVELOPMENT FOR ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SETTINGS
Natalie Masis1, Susan Johnson2, Jennifer McCaffrey3, Karen Chapman-Novakofski1.
1University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, 2University of Colorado Denver, Anshutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO, 3University of Illinois Extension, Urbana, IL.
To address childhood overweight issues, interventions have targeted the school environment. These may include school meal offerings, nutrition education, or healthy eating promotions involving teachers, principals, food service workers, and community workers. Resources, attitudes, barriers, and perceived benefits of such changes can impact their adoption. With no current reliable survey to measure all of these variables, our objective was to create a school environmental survey that allows for baseline nutrition environment assessment of elementary schools in order to design and evaluate healthy interventions. Preliminary surveys based on previous studies were developed for elementary school principals, teachers, community workers/health educators, and food service directors/managers. After being exempted by the Institutional Research Board, a panel of reviewers were identified to cover the breadth of occupations and perspectives (n = 7) for content and face validity. Feedback from individual panel members was gathered through interviews and written comments. Comments were summarized and consensus reached on changes. Recommended question changes primarily reflected formatting concerns. The Community Worker/Health Educator Survey was revised to exclude any overall school policy questions and to include their own teaching of nutrition or health. The food service manager and teacher survey changes primarily reflected changes in federal or local health policies or food procurement/service refinement. Overall, development of a baseline survey that assesses the nutrition environment, school wellness policies, and nutrition education may help researchers, public health officials, and school workers have a starting foundation for planning and evaluating healthy environmental changes in elementary school settings.