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Prev Chronic Dis. 2016 Jun 16;13:E79. doi: 10.5888/pcd13.160023.

USDA Snack Policy Implementation: Best Practices From the Front Lines, United States, 2013-2014.

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Postdoctoral Research Associate, Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1747 W Roosevelt Rd, Chicago, M/C 275, IL 60608. Email:
Institute for Health Research and Policy, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
Community Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.
College of Applied Health Sciences, Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, College of Allied Health, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.



The Smart Snacks in Schools interim final rule was promulgated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as authorized by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (PL 111-296) and implementation commenced beginning July 1, 2014; however, in the years leading up to this deadline, national studies suggested that most schools were far from meeting the USDA standards. Evidence to guide successful implementation of the standards is needed. This study examined snack policy implementation in exemplary high schools to learn best practices for implementation.


Guided by a multiple case study approach, school professionals (n = 37) from 9 high schools across 8 states were recruited to be interviewed about perceptions of school snack implementation; schools were selected using criterion sampling on the basis of the HealthierUS Schools Challenge: Smarter Lunchrooms (HUSSC: SL) database. Interview transcripts and internal documents were organized and coded in ATLAS.Ti v7; 2 researchers coded and analyzed data using a constant comparative analysis method to identify best practice themes.


Best practices for snack policy implementation included incorporating the HUSSC: SL award's comprehensive wellness approach; leveraging state laws or district policies to reinforce snack reform initiatives; creating strong internal and external partnerships; and crafting positive and strategic communications.


Implementation of snack policies requires evidence of successful experiences from those on the front lines. As federal, state, and local technical assistance entities work to ensure implementation of the Smart Snacks standards, these best practices provide strategies to facilitate the process.

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