Quest for Healthy Schools: A Program Evaluation of School Wellness Efforts in SNAP-Ed Eligible Alabama Schools
Type of DegreePhD Dissertation
Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management
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Promoting a healthy school environment may be a key component in the prevention of childhood obesity, a condition disproportionately affecting students from limited resource, low-income populations. Quest for Healthy Schools (QHS) is a school wellness initiative seeking to influence school wellness policies, systems and environments (PSE) in Alabama schools serving limited resource, low-income populations. The program evaluation for Quest for Healthy Schools utilized a quasi-experimental, one-group pretest-posttest case study design including quantitative and qualitative components. The program Organization Readiness for Implementing Change (ORIC) surveys and AHG Healthy Schools Program School Wellness Assessments were collected for quantitative analysis and outcome evaluation. Structured interviews were conducted with School Wellness Champions. SNAP-Ed site reports for school partners were submitted by local SNAP-Ed educators. Results showed no statistical significance between pre and post ORIC surveys and AHG Healthy Schools Program School Wellness Assessments. Although results from the ORIC surveys were statistically insignificant, most stakeholders were confident in their school’s ability to make school wellness PSE changes. Findings indicate QHS school partners were able to overcome literature-based challenges to school wellness including (1) inability to gain support from key stakeholders, (2) not having adequate tools to support those responsible for implementation and evaluation, (3) lack of time and personnel, (4) not prioritizing school wellness efforts, (5) need for training opportunities and (6) being unfamiliar with school wellness policy requirements. Alabama SNAP-Ed supported full implementation of PSE changes with additional PSE efforts still in progress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This study demonstrates how local intermediaries can be effective in supporting school wellness promotion.