Cultivating a Healthy School Environment: Evaluation of a Virginia School Nutrition Training Program

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Virginia Tech


The Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, Maintenance (RE-AIM) framework was used to evaluate the impact of the Virginia Department of Education's (VDOE) implementation of the USDA's Team Nutrition training program on Virginia elementary schools from 2017-2020. The VDOE provided training for school nutrition directors (SNDs) at workshops in June 2018 and September 2019 and continued technical assistance to help SNDs improve the school food environment within their divisions. SNDs' perceived support, self-efficacy, and intention to implement changes to the school food environment was measured through pre- and post-training surveys and quarterly check-ins. Implementation was measured using lunchroom environment observations and strategic plans created at the workshops. SNDs representing 83.9% of Virginia elementary students (512,953 students) in 111 divisions attended at least one of the workshops. Within effectiveness, perceived support from cafeteria staff was highest among all stakeholders for both the 2018 and 2019 trainings, though it significantly decreased from before to after the training for both workshops. Average perceived support did not significantly change over time. Self-efficacy was significantly higher following the 2018 training workshop only. The intervention was adopted by 84% of divisions and both intention to implement and actual implementation were highest for strategies related to Farm to School, a VDOE priority. Effectiveness and implementation are expected to improve as it takes up to years for changes to occur in schools. Despite RE-AIM not being part of the initial evaluation plan, 62% of indicators were assessed. With some adaptations to improve effectiveness, the intervention should continue and be expanded.



RE-AIM, School Nutrition, Team Nutrition, Dissemination, Train-the-Trainer