Summer 2023

ESRP 9000 Professor

Gina L. Peyton, Ed.D.

ESRP 9001 Professor

Gina L. Peyton, Ed.D.

Executive Summary

This strategic research project was designed to underscore the need for developing sound policies and strategies to eliminate or reduce food insecurity and food supply shortages, affecting children in schools, nutritionally and academically, especially during emergency school closings and pandemic situations. School nutrition programs are guided by effective policies designed to meet the needs of students and will help the overall goals of the state’s education system with building capacity to compete globally with other nutrition programs. The Clinton County School District’s School Nutrition Department was established to ensure the program operates in a manner that promotes sustainability and program integrity and communicates with stakeholders about the challenges and opportunities associated with providing healthy and nutritious school meals. After an examination of the internal and external factors through the application of a SWOT analysis, it was revealed that the critical issue facing the school district was the need for food security and strategies to alleviate food supply shortages. To address this issue, universal free meal programs were selected from four alternative solutions after careful review of literature reviewed to evaluate the impact of each alternative. Online application process for free-and-reduced price meals and changes at the school meal level were the two strategies selected to implement this solution. Through the adoption of the Quantitative Strategic Planning Matrix tool (QSPM) changes at the school meal level was selected as the strategy after receiving the highest attractiveness score (TAS) of 5.72 when rated for its appeal or attractiveness against the internal and external factors. An action plan was developed and outlined the action steps required to effectively implement this strategy. These steps include (a) design the formal nutrition education policy, (b) write/plan menus, (c) design food safety trainings/professional development sessions, and (d) recruit and secure funding sources.

While the literature reviewed provided strong support for changes at the school meal level, prior work on how free school meals and changes at the school meal level directly impact student performance, student health and food insecurity, has reached mixed conclusions. Hence, it is recommended that more research be undertaken to effectively assess changes at the school meal level designed to help eliminate food insecurity and food supply shortages affecting children in schools. The findings from the literature reviewed for this strategic research project provide a strong basis to support the adoption of this recommendation as the various action steps are implemented in the Clinton City Schools District School Nutrition Department. These findings provide compelling support for further strategic policy development at the local, state and federal levels to establish and maintain quality school nutrition programs, hence providing sustainability for future programming.

Document Type

Strategic Research Project-NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education