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OSNAP Initiative: Strategies to Increase Drinking Water Access


How it Works
Implementation — at School District Level

Pre-learning community activities

  1. Recruit afterschool sites to participate in the OSNAP program.
  2. Choose a location for the learning community gathering.
  3. Schedule a date for learning community session #1.
  4. Distribute the 5 copies of the practice assessment tool (see “Daily Practice Assessment Tool” in the Intervention Materials section) and orient afterschool programs to complete the practice assessment prior to the first learning community meeting. Staff will complete this assessment again after the end of the third learning community. Encourage sites to gather their policies and documents to bring to learning community session #1. For more information, see core element #1 about program assessment of current afterschool program practices.
  5. Create copies of all the handouts to distribute. Prepare a binder to give to each participating afterschool program.
  6. Gather all supplies.
  7. Send reminders to afterschool programs to complete assessment and to attend the learning community.

Hold learning communities with afterschool program staff
The learning communities included three in-person sessions for program directors and staff, following the collaborative approach created by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the model for professional development used by Boston Public Schools Department of Extended Learning Time and Afterschool Services. The meetings, led by the OSNAP research team, lasted approximately 3 hours each. As part of the learning communities, afterschool staff shared successes and challenges in completing goals. 

The OSNAP Initiative collaborative learning model brought staff from different afterschool sites together to share with and learn from each other as they discussed changes that support physical activity and healthy eating. OSNAP is designed to have three learning communities over the course of one year. In the OSNAP learning community sessions, participants gain knowledge and skills to promote physical activity and healthful foods/beverages; have opportunities to share barriers, strategies, and successes; and, in program teams, develop and refine action plans. These sessions walk participants through goal setting, creating action plans, and OSNAP resources available to help their programs create change.

The three learning community sessions cover the following topics:

  • Learning Session 1: Nutrition and Physical Activity in Out of School Time Programs 
    (Under OSNAP Learning Collaborative Materials)
    • This session includes an overview of the OSNAP Standards and the scientific rationale behind them. The OSNAP coordinator talks about the benefits of incorporating nutrition and physical activity in out of school time (OST) programs and introduces the Food & Fun Afterschool curriculum. The OSNAP coordinator also describes the importance of policy when making sustainable, healthy changes. Participants come with the 5-day assessment already completed, and in the session they score and review the assessment. Finally, program teams develop action plans with practice, policy, and communication action steps for achieving improved nutrition and physical activity. Alternatively, if assessments are completed via the interactive OSNAP website, participants discuss their reports and selected action plans.  
  • Learning Session 2: Implementing Nutrition and Physical Activity Improvements 
    (Under OSNAP Learning Collaborative Materials)
    • In this session, the group begins by checking in on action plans and discussing successes and challenges that they are encountering. Then the OSNAP coordinator covers specific strategies and resources for developing nutrition and physical activity policies. Program staff are encouraged to bring copies of their program documents (i.e. handbooks, schedules, menus, newsletters) and work through the policy assessment- or have already completed the assessment online ahead of Learning Community 2. A curriculum component focusing on promoting healthy eating and drinking is presented. The OSNAP coordinator demonstrates creative new ways to get kids moving, and time is allotted at the end for revising action plans. 
  • Learning Session 3: Sustaining Change in Out of School Time Programs 
    (Under OSNAP Learning Collaborative Materials)
    • In the third and final session, time is allotted for everyone to share their stories of triumphs and challenges. The group discusses nutrition and physical activity communication and policy strategies, and ways for staff to serve as healthy role models for children. Healthy alternatives for celebrations and rewards are presented. Finally, strategies for sustaining changes, including training, are discussed.   

Write afterschool program wellness policies
As a result of the learning communities, all ten afterschool programs chose as a primary goal providing water as a beverage at snack every day.

Review and revise district snack menus and beverage serving plans
(This step depends on who has responsibility for designing the snack and beverage menus: the district level, the afterschool program level, or both.) The OSNAP team partnered with the Boston Public Schools Food and Nutrition Service to review snack menus and provide nutritional and price analyses to support modifications that were consistent with OSNAP goals. These changes included decreasing the days per week juice was on the menu, serving water as the primary beverage, and increasing weekly offerings of whole fruits and vegetables. Modified menus specified both water and cups daily and promoted water as the primary beverage, with the goal of increasing servings of water and decreasing servings of fruit juice. The aim was to substitute whole servings of fruit and vegetables for juice. Cups were provided as part of the snack, as previous research found that the provision of cups leads to higher water consumption. The menu was given to snack providers at afterschool sites for implementation.

Implementation — at Afterschool Program Level and at Food Service Level

Collaborate with Food Service to design a healthy snack and beverage menu and to design a water serving plan
The Food and Nutrition Services staff either filled insulated jugs with water from the tap or filled pitchers with bottled water from water coolers. Water delivery systems were determined based on whether sites had potable drinking water and kitchen sinks for filling jugs.

Implement revised snack menu and beverage serving plan
Insulated jugs were filled with water from the tap or pitchers were filled from bottle water coolers.  When necessary, school food service staff placed jugs on food service carts to transport the insulated jugs from the water source to the program area.  Food and Nutrition Services purchased 8-ounce recyclable cups priced at less than $0.01 each. Afterschool staff members were responsible for serving the water to children in their program.

Implement afterschool program wellness policies to decrease consumption of outside food and beverages
Some of the afterschool programs choose to highlight water consumption by setting policies that banned outside beverages other than water from being consumed during snack. Parents, children and staff were informed that the only beverage allowed during afterschool program time would be water.

Implement Food & Fun Afterschool curriculum’s Hydration unit in afterschool programs
All programs received a copy of the Food & Fun Afterschool Curriculum, which included a unit and activities on promoting water during the afterschool program. Afterschool programs were also offered the opportunity to receive a one hour training on implementing the Food & Fun Afterschool Curriculum. Afterschool programs were given flexibility as to whether and how they would implement units in the Food & Fun Curriculum.

Engage parents through distribution of newsletters and handouts
To achieve the goal of providing water at snack every day, some programs opted to create policies to include in family handbooks and other parent communications. New practices were announced at staff meetings and assemblies and families received newsletters highlighting program events.

Keys to Success: 

  • Employ the learning community approach to achieve organizational and stakeholder support
  • Allow program staff to set individualized goals for their particular afterschool program
  • Engage food service staff in identifying solutions
  • Collaborate effectively with school food service staff, using such strategies as:
    • Encourage program staff and/or OSNAP facilitator to meet with either afterschool site-level or district-level staff to introduce themselves and communicate goals
    • Become familiar with the rules and regulations of the program(s) that support afterschool snacks: the National School Lunch Program, the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program, etc.
    • Offer to assist school food service staff by making sure afterschool program staff and students follow rules and regulations
  • Develop a convenient and low-cost method for providing drinking water at afterschool snack

Barriers to Implementation: 

  • Identifying funds to support the initial cost of staff time and compensation for afterschool staff to attend the three learning communities
  • Identifying funds to support any infrastructure costs (i.e., purchase of pitchers or cups; installation of water lines or coolers) necessary to provide drinking water to students
  • Lack of buy-in from school administrators, afterschool program staff and school food service staff