In addition to offerings provided through the school meal program, school nutrition encompasses access to healthy foods and
beverages, time allotted for meals, and prohibition of non-healthy foods and beverages, with the goal of encouraging positive
nutritional behaviors in the student population during the school day and beyond. As part of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, the
“Smart Snacks in School” guidelines established nutritional standards for all snack foods and beverages sold to children during the
school day (USDA, 2010).
Additionally, the Colorado Healthy Beverages Policy prohibits vending of sugar-sweetened beverages (e.g., soda pop and fruit drinks
that are not 100% juice) in schools (CDE, 2015).10 However, students can purchase sugar-sweetened beverages in just under one-fifth
of elementary and combined schools and just under one-quarter of secondary schools.
To promote fruit and vegetable consumption among students, schools report the following practices in order of the potential for
greatest impact: 1) pricing nutritious foods and beverages at a lower cost, 2) placing fruits and vegetables near the cashier for easier
access, 3) offering a self-serve salad bar to students, and 4) planting a school garden (Figure 3.1). Though fewer than 17 percent of
schools report doing so, pricing nutritious foods at a more affordable cost is especially important for those that allow students to
purchase snack foods or beverages while at school – less than one-quarter of elementary and combined schools allow these
purchases while two-thirds of secondary schools do.
Percentage of schools with practices that encourage fruit and vegetable consumption
The adoption of food-related policies that promote nutritious eating can improve the overall impact and sustainability of nutritional
practices. Such policies include requiring predominantly healthy food/beverages for celebrations, prohibiting the advertising of
unhealthy food/beverages on school grounds, requiring non-food or healthy food school-sponsored fundraisers, and prohibiting the
use of food as a reward. As shown in Figure 3.2, less than half of schools have these policies in place, while elementary and combined
schools are typically more likely to do so than secondary schools.
Percentage of schools with food-related policies to promote healthy eating
10 In September 2016, the Colorado State Board of Education voted to align the Colorado Healthy Beverages Policy with the federal Smart Snacks standards. Although sugarsweetened beverages are still prohibited, this alignment again allows for diet soda to be sold in schools.
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