Implementation of a policy to promote healthy eating in schools
This case study analyses the implementation of the Food and Nutrition Policy for New Brunswick Schools. This policy was developed by the New Brunswick Department of Education and adopted in the legislature in 1991. Its goal was to enhance the nutritional status of provincial school children. Policies like this one represent a new direction for both education and health promotion and warrant investigation because of their potential benefits to student health and learning. In this case, a top-down approach to policy development and implementation proved largely ineffective, so the purpose of this research was to analyse the policy process in order to identify the factors that influenced implementation and to recommend future actions to enhance the processes involved. The analytical constructs were "capacity" and "will," the ability and desire to implement a policy. The combined macro-and micro-level analyses involved investigating the history and current status of the policy obtained through an examination of government and other documents, 66 interviews with provincial, district, and school-based participants, and observations of six schools in two districts. The results indicate that four factors influenced implementation: (a) the nature of the policy, (b) the organisational milieu, (c) the approach to policy development, and (d) the approach to implementation. The analysis of these factors combined with an examination of implementation at the local level indicate that if the Food and Nutrition Policy is to be more successfully implemented in future, 'capacity' and 'will' need more attention. The Department of Education must recognise that implementation requires a significant investment of time, money, and expertise, and the re-organisation of school food services to promote health; and that the process of change needs to be more collaborative and participative to encourage educators to see nutrition as more integral to their professional roles.