Off-campus WSU users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your WSU access ID and password, then click the "Off-campus Download" button below.

Non-WSU users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name



Health Education

First Advisor

Rachael Dombrowski


Purpose. This study describes the processes and actions that a school food service director (FSD) uses to interpret school food policy and the related practices used by school food services professionals (FSPs) to implement school meal programs in one Midwestern school district. Aims. The aims of this study were to address the research needs, including: a) explicating how FSPs interpret school food policy, if at all, b) examining if interpretation of school food policy impacts overall practices within school dining centers, c) understanding if policy interpretation and related practices impacted nutrition-related behaviors of school-aged youth, and d) examining the extent of how the COVID-19 crisis impacted FSP practices and policy interpretation. Methods. In order to determine the processes and activities the FSD used to interpret school food policy a qualitative single case study design was used. Existing youth health eating and school food environment (SFE) outcomes data was used to triangulate the qualitative narratives and document review collected for this case study. In this case study the participants were administrators (N=6), support staff (N=7), and youth (N=6). Analysis. To analyze the data a constant comparative process was used (Glaser & Strauss, 1976; Charmaz, 2006; Charmaz, 2016). Conclusions. The FSD interprets policy and catalyzes a supportive departmental work environment for FSPs which facilitates complete policy interpretation and effective program implementation. When policy interpretation is supported by administrators it further promotes effective program implementation. The pairing of supports and effective program implementation promote healthier nutrition-related behaviors among youth and a healthier SFE. Implications. Study results can increase the understanding and brevity of the implications that school food policy interpretation can have on school meal program implementation among FSPs. Especially as it relates to youth health outcomes linked to nutrition and school meal programs in districts that qualify for Community Eligibility Provision.

Off-campus Download