The study was conducted to identify the enabling and barrier factors in the development of nutrition policies in Prince Edward Island elementary and consolidated schools.
A document review and in-depth interviews were conducted with key stakeholders (n=12).
Principals were identified as important champions for change. Working group members created an interface between the school world and the nutrition world, and drew upon common philosophical ground to work together to lead the change process. Successfully navigating the process of policy development required building a case for change, testing policies in the real world, integrating healthy eating within school life, offering support to schools, engaging participants, and acknowledging the need to weigh the costs and benefits of the change. At times, external pressures on schools and available foods varied in the extent to which they enabled or challenged policy development. Finally, resource limitations, competing issues, and the use of unhealthy food as rewards were identified as the primary barriers.
The use of a consultative approach that engages key stakeholders early in the process is critical to the successful development of school nutrition policies. This approach also may be an important predictor of the long-term success of such initiatives.