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Assessing nutrition and health services

This is an excerpt from Promoting Health and Academic Success by David Birch & Donna Videto.

Assessing Nutrition Services

Discover School Breakfast Toolkit

Purpose: This toolkit, from the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was developed to help schools assess current breakfast patterns and programs, calculate costs of implementing or changing breakfast programs, identify the type of meal service to provide to students, and create a marketing plan to engage and sustain a customer base. The toolkit includes the following sections:

  • Introduction
  • Successful use of the toolkit, which guides users through the toolkit
  • An initial assessment, which provides surveys that schools can use to evaluate the interest levels of parents and students
  • Cost calculator, which includes worksheets to help schools calculate the costs of implementing the School Breakfast Program
  • Description of multiple methods for serving breakfast, which can help schools determine the best method for their needs
  • Roadmaps to success
  • Marketing efforts, which includes a marketing plan for schools to market the School Breakfast Program
  • Resources
  • Program evaluation, which provides information about how and what to evaluate specific to the School Breakfast Program

Audience: The toolkit is targeted toward individuals interested in increasing access to the School Breakfast Program. That might include school health councils, school nutrition staff, school administrators, parents, and community members.

Use: Toolkit users should first become familiar with the items in the toolkit and the steps to take. The next step is to use the student, parent, and administrator surveys to identify current knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of these audiences as it relates to eating breakfast and breakfast programs. The third step is to use the tools to calculate a variety of cost-related items, such as breakfast profit/loss, revenue per reimbursable breakfast, daily revenue breakfast, and annual expenses to revenue comparisons. The remaining components of the toolkit guides users through identifying the best method for serving breakfast and developing and implementing a marketing plan to increase access and participation in the School Breakfast Program.

Access: The toolkit is found online at

Assessing Health Services

Body Mass Index Measurement (BMI) in Schools

Purpose: Developed by CDC researchers, with extensive input from experts from the field of school health, the BMI Measurement in Schools document, published in both full journal article (Nihiser, 2007) and executive summary formats, provides schools with an overview of what BMI is, the differences between BMI surveillance and screening, and a list of safeguards for schools choosing to implement a BMI measurement program.

Audience: The document can be used by school health councils, school nurses, and physical education and health education teachers. Any school interested in conducting BMI measurement can use the document to learn more about options for such a strategy and to identify the best option for the school.

Use: The BMI Measurement in Schools document presents both a synthesis of the science on measuring BMI in schools and safeguards to have in place when developing and implementing such a program or initiative. Leaders within the school who are interested in BMI measurement use the document to determine whether the school prefers surveillance or screening and to identify how the safeguards can be put in place.

Access: Both the full journal article and the executive summary can be found online at

Safe at School and Ready to Learn: A Comprehensive Policy Guide for Protecting Students With Life-Threatening Food Allergies

Purpose: Developed by the National School Boards Association (NSBA), the Safe at School and Ready to Learn policy guide provides school boards with an overview of the prevalence of food allergies, policy guidance for school boards to consider when developing food allergy policies, and a policy checklist (National School Boards Association, 2012). The policy checklist guides the user through a process of identifying policy areas that need attention and actions that can be taken towards improvement.

Audience: The policy guide is to be used primarily by school board members. Secondary users can be school administrators, school health services staff, physical and health education teachers, parents, and school nutrition staff.

Use: In addition to providing policy guidance to school boards and other stakeholders, the guide's checklist is to be completed by identifying whether a specific policy element is included or not included and whether it is implemented or not implemented. When policy gaps are determined, a section for identifying action steps is provided. Results of the policy checklist can be used to inform and develop food allergy policies for schools.

Access: The guide is available online at

Learn more about Promoting Health and Academic Success.

More Excerpts From Promoting Health and Academic Success