Analysis

Parents in South Carolina Support Healthy School Food Policies

A new poll shows that South Carolina parents support the concept of nutrition standards for all foods and beverages sold to students during school.

Pollster Memo (PDF) | Full Results (PDF)

The survey was commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the American Heart Association as part of their Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods and Voices for Healthy Kids initiatives.  It assessed South Carolina parents’ opinions of nutrition standards for school meals as well as snack foods and beverages. Among the findings: 

  • Parents favor nutrition standards for all food served in schools.
    • 77 percent favor national standards for school meals.
    • 75 percent support such standards for school snacks.
    • Compared with the national results, more parents in South Carolina support nutrition standards for school meals, snack foods, and beverages. Seventy-two percent of parents nationally support such standards. 
  • Parents across the political spectrum in South Carolina support the idea of school nutrition standards.
    • 90 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of Republicans, and 81 percent of independents say they favor such standards.
    • 90 percent of Democrats, 66 percent of Republicans, and 75 percent of independents favor nutrition standards for snack foods and beverages. 
  • Parents are concerned about the state of children’s overall health (82 percent) and childhood obesity (79 percent). 
  • Most parents have a mixed or negative view of the nutritional quality of snack foods and beverages sold in schools. Seventy percent of parents think foods sold a la carte, separate from meals, are only somewhat or not at all healthy. Seventy-five percent feel this way about food sold in school stores, and 81 percent hold such views of snacks and beverages sold in school vending machines. 

Across the country, school districts are implementing the national Smart Snacks in School standards, which set basic limits on the fat, salt, and calories allowed in items sold through vending machines, school stores, and a la carte cafeteria menus. The changes for snack foods follow the updated nutrition standards for school lunches that have been in place over two years and have been implemented by approximately 90 percent of districts in South Carolina.