This section outlines the aspects of an intervention that are central to its theory and logic and that are thought to be responsible for its effectiveness. Core elements are critical features of the intervention's intent and design and should be kept intact when the intervention is implemented or adapted.
- Base the policy on strong nutrition standards that address all foods and beverages available in schools. West Virginia based its nutrition standards on the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) recommendations for foods available outside of school meals. The standards address both school meals and "other foods and beverages" outside of school meals, as well as marketing, monitoring and enforcement, staffing, local wellness policies, and more.
- To ensure key stakeholders are involved throughout the policy development process, invite a wide variety of stakeholders to participate. West Virginia's Nutrition Advisory Council membership represents a wide variety of stakeholders including county school staff and administrators, teachers and parents, food service industry, the state legislature, university faculty and researchers, the state Departments of Education and Health & Human Resources, dietitians, physicians and others.
- Recruit policymaker champions to help pass the standards. In West Virginia, State Board of Education member Barbara Fish served on the IOM committee that developed the 2007 recommendations for school foods and was a key advocate for development and passage of West Virginia's standards.
- Provide training and education for all groups involved with policy implementation.West Virginia trained State Department of Education and county school district staff such as county food service directors, administrators, and principals. In addition, education materials were made available online for parents and other community members to advocate for healthier foods and beverages in schools. The West Virginia Child Nutrition Director and staff also provide information to federal agencies and other groups nationwide on their process and progress. (Learn more about training materials and resources in the Training and Technical Assistance section)
- Develop resources to support implementation. West Virginia developed or revised a wide variety of implementation tools to support the new standards, including a website, healthy school celebrations booklet, quarterly newsletters, and more. (Learn more about these resources in the Implementation section, and access them in the Intervention Materials section)
- Tie policy implementation to financial incentives or disincentives. West Virginia was able to eliminate soft drinks from high schools in all counties through a voluntary recognition program that provided financial incentives to participating county school systems (Learn more about this process in the Implementation section). Further, West Virginia ties policy compliance to funding for school meals.
- Provide a strong marketing/PR component.West Virginia contracted with a private public relations firm to develop a branding and marketing campaign that included a website and various materials and online tools to assist schools and parents in making changes to the school food environment. They also developed media packets and other communication tools to increase visibility and publicity for the policy. (Learn more about these resources in the Implementation section, and access them in the Intervention Materials section)
- Monitor county school food service departments for compliance with the state policy. West Virginia incorporated monitoring activities into existing tools' tracking of county compliance with National School Lunch Program standards. (Learn more about monitoring and evaluation in the Implementation section, and access related resources in the Intervention Materials section)