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Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy

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Reports and Briefs

Tisch Food Center publishes reports and resources based on faculty and student research. We also respond to the current policy environment with a series of briefs, public comments, and editorials regarding issues that align with our mission and activities. We seek to provide tools for advocates and policy makers, to shape policy that creates an environment supportive of food and nutrition education and healthy food choices.

 

Reports

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Expanding Nutrition Education Programs in New York City Elementary Schools: Understanding Practice to Inform Policy. Our first report found the majority (61%) of elementary schools in New York City do not have nutrition education programs designed and provided by entities outside the school. The study analyzed 20 nutrition education programs that are offered by nonprofits, universities, and other groups in elementary schools in three New York City boroughs – Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens – to evaluate their scope and distribution. Key recommendations include:

  • For Schools: schools can evaluate if they are providing enough nutrition education to help students make healthy choices, and if not, consider adding more NEPs to their schools;

  • For NEP Providers: NEP providers can ensure that more students, especially those in high-need areas, are reached by using tools to measure the need and assessing how they can best support specific schools. NEPs can also more aggressively promote the variety of benefits they provide to a school such as supporting academic success, improving eating behaviors, and building community; and

  • For Funders and Policy Makers: Funders and policy makers can increase support for NEPs in targeted areas while working towards a goal of 80% of NYC schools with NEPs by 2020. This can be done through increased geographically and need targeted funding by government and others, and policy mandating nutrition education in schools.

  • NEP Report: Expanding Nutrition Education Programs in NYC Elementary Schools
  • NEP Report Executive Summary

Principals’ Perception of Universal Free Lunch A Survey Analysis

This report highlights principal support for New York City's universal free lunch program for middle schoolers.

During the 2014-15 school year, NYC began providing free school lunch to middle school students in standalone middle schools. The specific policy took advantage of the federal Community Eligibility Provision, which states that any school (or group of schools) that has a certain proportion of high-needs students can use federal reimbursements to serve all students a free lunch. 

Because of initial concerns around implementation, and to determine early impacts of universal free lunch on schools, Tisch Food Center researchers distributed an online survey to all principals in standalone middle schools to determine any challenges or successes occurring in the first year. The study shows that principals in New York City middle schools are happy with the implementation of universal free lunch. Every survey respondent recommended continuing the program into the 2015-16 school year, and recommended expanding the program to elementary and high schools.

Read the key findings and details of the 2016 Principals’ Perceptions of Universal Free Lunch: A Survey Analysis

 


Briefs

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What do you picture when you think about nutrition education for children? Our new 2-pager shows how nutrition education is dynamic, experiential, and fun for kids. Federal child nutrition programs can combine access to healthy meals with programming that lets kids cook, taste, and grow food, setting them up for a lifetime of enjoyable healthy eating.

In this brief, we compiled examples of strategies from studies and guides that hold great potential to enhance the cafeteria as a learning space. The cafeteria is an ideal venue outside the classroom for food and nutrition education. Lunchrooms can stimulate students’ memories of lessons learned in the classroom, can offer realistic examples of choosing and tasting new healthy foods, and can overall “nudge” students to make healthful decisions. As “choice architects,” nutrition educators can create these cues and situations to improve dietary behavior at school. This brief was prepared as a backgrounder for the New York City Alliance for CNR (NYC4CNR). 

The Center strongly supports the inclusion of sustainability issues in the creation of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015. The system that produces, distributes, and processes the food that sustains and nourishes us is intricate. It is imperative that our nation’s dietary guidance considers this system. To do so, our considerations must go beyond the nutrient composition of food and the health consequences of our eating patterns. The eating patterns we suggest must also take into account broader issues such as minimizing natural resources used throughout our food system and decreasing unintentional by-products that potentially harm soil, water and air. Then we can be assured that our guidelines promote both health and sustainability.

In a comment to the USDA, we recommend the following five considerations for ensuring that the Dietary Guidelines support personal and ecological health. The complete comments, with explanations, evidence, and action steps, can be found below:

1. Eat mostly plant foods and reduce consumption of animal foods

2. Eat foods close to their natural state

3. Eat more organically produced foods

4. Eat more local foods

5. Limit waste from food

Congress is currently drafting the 2015 Child Nutrition Act, which oversees federal nutrition assistance programs for children. Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) provides important opportunities for nutrition education to be combined with access to healthy foods, maximizing CNR’s ability to improve our children’s health.  When children have motivation, knowledge, skills, and a supportive environment  they are more enthusiastic about eating healthy meals and snacks.

Our new issue brief makes specific recommendations to Congress on how to strengthen nutrition education in child nutrition programs and lays out the science behind effective nutrition education policies.

In the brief, we propose four aligned strategies to strengthen nutrition education in the 2015 Child Nutrition Reauthorization:

  1. Assess the effectiveness of and coordination between nutrition education within the Child Nutrition Programs as well as programs implemented through other agencies throughout the federal government that include nutrition education.
  2. Provide additional resources, including breastfeeding support, for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to meet demand and maximize the cost savings of this program. 
  3. Support the implementation of updated nutrition standards and evidence-based nutrition education for young children in early childcare settings.
  4. Implement the 2015 Farm to School Act to help meet school districts’ demand for nutrition education programs that teach children about food from the farm to the fork. 

Strengthening Nutrition Education in Child Nutrition Programs: Team Nutrition

The Tisch Food Center, along with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity, are calling on Congress to increase funding for Team Nutrition in the FY17 Appropriations Bill. Read more about our case for strengthening nutrition education. 

Strengthening Nutrition Education in Child Nutrition Programs: Team Nutrition

Published Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2016

Strengthening Nutrition Education in Child Nutrition Programs: Team Nutrition

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The GREEN Tool: For Well-Integrated School Gardens

This research brief describes the GREEN (Garden Resources, Education, and Environment Nexus) Tool - a practical, flexible, evidence-based tool designed to help gardens grow deep roots in schools.

Why do some school gardens flourish and become deeply integrated within their schools while others start with a bang but fizzle over time? Researchers at the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, Teachers College Columbia University identified 19 components shared by successful gardens at 21 New York City schools and determined how those components can work together. The result is the GREEN (Garden Resources, Education, and Environment Nexus) Tool - a practical, flexible, evidence-based tool designed to help gardens grow deep roots in schools. The GREEN Tool can also help advocates, educators, and policymakers identify strategies and resources to sustain school gardens over the long term.
 
 
Highlights of the GREEN Tool Research Brief:
 
- Visual GREEN Tool Map illustrating pathways to establish, integrate, and sustain school gardens 
- Review of the research that led to the GREEN Tool
- Case studies of successful NYC school gardens
- Policy recommendations to strengthen NYC school gardens
 

Recent Research Publications:

Burt, K. G., Koch, P., & Contento, I. Development of the GREEN (Garden Resources, Education, and Environment Nexus) Tool: An Evidence-Based Model for School Garden Integration. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2017.02.008

 

 

 

Published Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

The GREEN Tool: For Well-Integrated School Gardens

Why do some school gardens flourish and become deeply integrated within their schools while others start with a bang but fizzle over time? Researchers at the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, Teachers College Columbia University identified 19 components shared by successful gardens at 21 New York City schools and determined how those components can work together. The result is the GREEN (Garden Resources, Education, and Environment Nexus) Tool - a practical, flexible, evidence-based tool designed to help gardens grow deep roots in schools. The GREEN Tool can also help advocates, educators, and policymakers identify strategies and resources to sustain school gardens over the long term.
 
 
Highlights of the GREEN Tool Research Brief:
 
- Visual GREEN Tool Map illustrating pathways to establish, integrate, and sustain school gardens 
- Review of the research that led to the GREEN Tool
- Case studies of successful NYC school gardens
- Policy recommendations to strengthen NYC school gardens
 

Recent Research Publications:

Burt, K. G., Koch, P., & Contento, I. Development of the GREEN (Garden Resources, Education, and Environment Nexus) Tool: An Evidence-Based Model for School Garden Integration. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2017.02.008

 

 

 

How This Gift Connects The Dots
 
Scholarships & Fellowships
 
Faculty & Programs
 
Campus & Technology
 
Financial Flexibility
 
Engage TC Alumni & Friends