Assessing the food environment in Manitoba schools: analysis of the 2009 Manitoba School Nutrition Survey
Objectives: To analyze data collected in the 2009 Manitoba School Nutrition Survey to describe the school food environment, and to assess whether Manitoba schools have developed and implemented food and nutrition policies. Methods: A quantitative survey sent to all publicly funded schools in Manitoba (n=688). Questions covered food service facilities (cafeterias, canteen/tuck shops, and vending machines), lunch at school, fundraising, food-related school events, school food programs, and policy development. Results: Response rate from schools was 78%. Results indicate that 56% of schools have a policy in place at the division level and a further 29% have policies at the school level. 65% of Manitoba schools have nutrition and/or health committees in place. 44% of schools stated they have funded school food programs. The top three food items sold for fundraising were Mom’s pantry items (41%), chocolate bars (27%), and frozen pizza (24%). Conclusions: Results of the 2009 Manitoba School Nutrition Survey show that food remains as an essential part of school life. The high response rate suggests that great importance is being placed on child nutritional health in schools. The survey shows that there have been changes in the school food environments compared to the baseline data from the 2006 survey, especially in the area of policy development and the placement of a health committee. School food programs continue to be an important element in schools. Implications: This study shows that the Manitoba approach to school nutrition policy appears to have been effective in producing changes in Manitoba schools and provides directions for future efforts to implement policies.
nutrition, policy, school, Manitoba