Local Wellness Policies:  It’s the Law

In “Healthy School Environments: It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint,” author Arianne Corbett, RD, takes a look back at 10 years of local school wellness policy progress. A final rule on additional changes to this requirement is expected to be released sometime in 2015. Do you know what’s expected to stay in compliance?

Based on the proposed rule issued by USDA and the requirements established in the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, updated wellness policies should include:

  • one or more established leaders to direct wellness policy compliance;
  • participation by and communication with the public on wellness policy activities and progress;
  • goals for nutrition education and promotion, physical activity and other school-based activities that promote wellness;
  • nutrition guidelines for all foods and beverages consistent with updated meal patterns and Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards;
  • policies for other foods and beverages available during the school day, such as classroom parties, snacks brought by parents and food given as incentives;
  • policies for food and beverage marketing that are consistent with Smart Snacks;
  • annual progress reports (which include a website link to the policy, a description of each schools wellness activities and progress toward meeting goals) plus information about how individuals can get involved; and
  • regular assessments of compliance, progress and how the wellness policy compares with model policies.

If these requirements feel like a tall order for your district’s school nutrition program, take heart. There are many tools available that are designed to simplify efforts. For example, USDA has compiled a variety of assessment tools developed by such organizations as the Institute for Child Nutrition (formerly the National Food Service Management Institute), the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Check these out as a good place to get started. 

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