Dr. Jeffrey's comments for Policy 4321.1   Please use your own words, but feel free to use these researched comments to learn about the ways in which this policy can improve school nutrition.  

1. General

Generally, WV children deserve strong nutrition policies for health, wellness, food safety and academic performance. The implementation of Policy 4321.1 adopted in 2014 was a tough one, but we have been through the toughest part...SO WHY GO BACKWARD NOW? Why in the world would we want "minimal" nutrition standards for our children especially when WV leads the nation in obesity and diabetes? I refuse to believe that it is because WVDE has to deal with "cupcake bills". News Alert-it is easy to buy a commercially packaged cupcake to meet the current nutrition standards. We must keep the health, safety and wellness of our children the priority for this nutrition policy.

 

2 .Purpose

The last sentence in the new policy, "The purpose of this document is also to provide guidelines and best practices supporting good nutrition and food safety that will help schools take a comprehensive approach toward health and wellness in their school community". KEY WORDS: Good nutrition and SAFETY. If this new policy actually accomplishes the purpose stated above, then there should not be much disagreement or discussion.

Also, purpose clearly states that "Within the WVDE, OCN is the administering state agency in WV for the USDA's child nutrition........OCN will be tasked with the implementation, oversight, monitoring, provision of TA..." This is because nutrition policies are quite complicated and it takes an appropriate skill set to understand and monitor the same policies.

 

4. Nutrition Standards for Child Nutrition Programs.

I applaud simplifying this section and simply referencing "the child nutrition program determined at the federal level", but am fearful of the Presidential administrations' current attempts to roll back these federal policies. I would recommend stronger language to protect our children's nutrition environment such as "aligning WV nutrition standards with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010". This way if feds roll back policies that are obviously working in WV, we can keep WV standards at a higher level. (reference: Journal of Child Nutrition & Management, Vol 40, Issue 1, Spring 2016 showing less empty calories, more fruit sold and consumed and less sodium since HHKFA AND no decline in number of lunches sold).

5.  Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods and Beverages.

If purpose of this policy is to meet best practice as stated in purpose 126-86-2, then Policy 4321.1 from 2014 is stronger and meets best practice as outlined by the IOM and CDC because it covers food sold and provided.

 (https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/nutrition/pdf/nutrition_factsheet_schools.pdf) This should apply to food and beverages SOLD and PROVIDED. If our goal is "GOOD NUTRITION" why would we SELL "good nutrition" but PROVIDE "BAD nutrition"?? Makes no sense at all! his should be consistent throughout the state and NOT an item that should be up to "local" control. Do WV's superintendents and principals have adequate training in regards to child nutrition and food safety? Do they want to answer all the calls, questions, and complaints from parents? Are they willing to accept the responsibility and liability for safety in the instance of anaphylaxis? I agree with local control where the school administrators have experience and appropriate training such as course content, disciplinary policies and etc. The HHFKA even set higher criteria and standards for the qualifications for food service directors. Section 302 of HHFKA makes the school food safety programs under the school lunch and breakfast programs applicable to any facility or part of a facility in which food are stored, prepared or SERVED! If both 5.3 and 5.4 included food SOLD and PROVIDED then we would be meeting the goal of this policy and protecting our children. Additionally, WV has received national recognition as printed the last 2 years in the Scorecard for best practice policies, Feed to Achieve legislation and breakfast participation. Why go backward?

 

10. Local Wellness Policy

The revision as written "...Food and beverages sold and otherwise made available ("PROVIDED") on the school campus during the school day are consistent with applicable minimum federal standards" seems to imply the bar be set at "minimum". Again, if our goal is to meet best practices, this section needs re-written to make all aware that the LEA local wellness policies are an opportunity for school districts to meet "best practices" related to health, nutrition and food safety." HHFKA states, "the final rule expands the requirements to strengthen wellness policies". IOM and CDC best practices for nutrition standards specify standards related to competitive foods and beverages provided a la carte, in school snack bars, stores, vending and during other school activities (classroom parties, fundraisers or school meetings). I suggest that the sentence above be re-written to encourage stricter policies OR that the content requirements be expanded to include: (from HHFKA final rule) 1. Specific goals for nutrition promotion and education, physical activity, and other school-based activities that promote student wellness. LEA's are required to review and consider evidence-based strategies in determining these goals. 2. Standards for nutrition guidelines for all foods and beverages sold to students on the school campus during the school days that are consistent with Federal regulations for: School meal nutrition standards, and the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards. 3. Standards for all foods and beverages provided, but not sold, to students during the school day (e.g. in classroom parties, classroom snacks brought by parents, or other foods given as incentives). 4. Policies for food and beverage marketing that allow marketing and advertising of only those foods and beverages that meet the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards. 5. Description of public involvement, public updates, policy leadership, and evaluation plan. Since the section on snack options (126-86-10) and Marketing other foods (126-86-6) from 2014 Policy 4321.1 has been removed, then it should be explicitly added to this Local Wellness Policy section.

 

11. Special Dietary Considerations and Food Allergies

As a Pediatrician, I applaud the Nutrition Advisory council for adding this section. Why not take this to the next level to meet best practices from IOM and CDC and add language that would align the labeled food to be consistent with Smart Snack in Schools? In 11.3, second sentence, "Outside foods and beverages that are commercially prepared and/or packaged are allowable at classroom celebrations AS LONG AS THEY MEET SMART SNACKS GUIDELINES". Please see same comments and references under section 5 above.

In section 11.4, "insulin dependent diabetes" should be changed to Diabetes in general since now type 2 diabetes is as common as type I or insulin dependent diabetes. If you want to cover all the metabolic disease like diabetes then you should include: 1. insulin resistance, 2. Metabolic Syndrome, 3. Pre-Diabetes and 4. Diabetes.

One remaining question in this section was raised when this policy was read during Board Meeting on June 14, 2017. WHO is liable if an anaphylactic reaction occurs during a classroom party? The Board attorney stated it would be a case by case matter.  Really?  If Nutrition standards are lowered and then WV experiences increases in such incidents, seems as if BOE as the decision making body would be liable. (Since I am a Pediatrician and not an attorney, I sought appropriate legal counsel and posed this question.)This is a policy that needs to be statewide for our children's protection. Again, why go backward?

 

12. Accountability and Compliance.

So what happens if schools repeatedly do NOT follow nutrition policy? We all know it still happens. We also know that is much better now that it ever has been. We have already been through the toughest part of the nutrition standards implementation. One reason it got better was the penalty outlined in policy 4321.1 13/2 a. b and c that outlined consequences of not following policy such as recovery of federal reimbursements or local general funds or removal of vending machines.

 

13. Feed to Achieve - Innovative Breakfast Delivery Strategies.

Excellent!! Again, another area beside WV nutrition standards that OCN has led the charge and received national recognition.  WV has been #1 on a national level for the past 2 years for school breakfast participation. (Refer to scorecard on OCN site)

 

14. Rewards and Penalties.

Excellent!!!!