SNA Releases Analysis of School Wellness Policies
October 10, 2006 -- More fruits and vegetables and cafeteria-based nutrition education are just two of the many ways local school wellness policies are helping promote a healthy childhood weight. From Los Angeles to Miami a large majority of the nation’s 100 largest school districts by enrollment are requiring nutrition education, adding recess and tightening nutrition standards. Of these districts, which educate 23% of American students, more than 93% have passed a local wellness policy that addresses nutrition standards for a la carte foods and beverages, according to a report released today by the School Nutrition Association. The report comes on the heels of an announcement last week by the Alliance for a Healthier Generation that sets out voluntary competitive food guidelines agreed to by five major food and snack manufacturers.
School nutrition professionals continue to play a leadership role in the ongoing trend towards healthy school environments and the development of local wellness policies. Section 204 of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 required that all school districts that participate in the National School Lunch Program approve a local wellness policy by July 1, 2006. The law mandated that these policies include goals for nutrition education, physical activity and other school-based activities as well as nutrition guidelines for all foods and beverages available on school campuses.
Today’s report, A Foundation for the Future outlines key characteristics of local wellness policies approved by the largest 100 school districts, by enrollment, in the United States. Although the top 100 school districts make up less than 1% of the school districts in the nation, they account for 16% of the schools, 21% of the teachers and 23% of the nation's K-12 students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Among the key finding, of the local wellness policies approved by the top 100 school districts:
- 98.9% address school meal nutrition standards. (Note that the US Department of Agriculture has set federal nutrition standards for meals served through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.)
- 93% address nutrition standards for a la carte foods and beverages.
- 92% address nutrition standards for foods and beverages available in vending machines.
- 65% address nutrition standards/guidelines for fundraisers held during school hours.
- 63% address nutrition standards/guidelines for classroom celebrations or parties.
- 65% address nutrition standards/guidelines for teachers using foods as rewards in the classroom.
- 50% of school districts address a recess requirement for at least elementary grade levels.
- 96% require physical activity for at least some grade levels.
- 97% require nutrition education for at least some grade levels.
- 95% outlined a plan for implementation and evaluation, utilizing the superintendent, school nutrition director or wellness policy task force as the entity responsible for monitoring the policy.
The full report is available through Related Links and includes a listing of the 100 largest school districts as well as a breakdown of the percentage of wellness policies that mandate versus encourage a variety of nutrition policies.