Objective: To assess school-level characteristics associated with Team Nutrition (TN) program participation, and compare the availability of food items in school lunches in participating vs nonparticipating schools.
Methods: Cross-sectional study with a nationally representative sample of 2,489 elementary schools in the United States. A mail-back survey was used to collect school administrator-reported annual data on availability of selected healthful and unhealthful lunch items between 2006-2007 and 2009-2010. Multivariate regression analyses was used to predict the availability of food items in school lunches based on TN participation.
Results: Team Nutrition participation was higher among schools in the south, in rural areas, and in states with stronger nutrition policies. Program participation was higher in schools with mostly low-income students and where a dietitian was on staff. Participating schools were more likely to offer healthful items and less likely to serve unhealthful items during lunch.
Conclusions and implications: The TN program has the potential to help schools offer healthier school meals.
Keywords: Team Nutrition Program; USDA Food and Nutrition Programs; school food environment.
Copyright © 2013 Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.