The Child Nutrition and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Reauthorization Act of 2004 requires all educational entities participating in the National School Lunch Program to establish local school wellness policies. In 2010, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (the Act) regulations added Section 9A to expand upon the previous local wellness policy requirement from the Reauthorization.
The 2010 legislation strengthens wellness policies by emphasizing ongoing implementation and assessment. This provision also supports a robust process at the community level, including the expansion of the team of collaborators participating in the wellness policy development. This approach is intended to foster broad-based support for effective wellness policies.
The Act requires the local education agency (LEA) to inform and update the public (including parents and students) about the content and implementation of the local wellness policies. Schools typically post this information on the school or district website. LEAs are also required to measure and make available to the public periodic assessments of the local wellness policy, including:
- The extent to which schools are in compliance with the local wellness policy.
- The extent to which the LEA’s local wellness policy compares to model local school wellness policies.
- The progress made in attaining the goals of the local wellness policy.
Finally, the Act requires LEAs to designate officials, as appropriate, to ensure that each school complies with the local school wellness policy.
Components the Wellness Policy Law:
- Goals for nutrition education, physical activity and other school-based activities.
- Nutrition guidelines for all foods available on each school campus during the school day.
- Guidelines for reimbursable school meals that are no less restrictive than those issued for the National School Lunch Program.
- Implementation and evaluation plans of the local wellness policy.
- Community involvement.
- Nutrition promotion.
The following organizations have a wealth of wellness policy information:
- U.S. Department of Agriculture-Food and Nutrition Service - Local School Wellness Policy website includes wellness policy reference materials and sample policies.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wellness site offers help in designing, implementing, and promoting policies. School Health Guidelines to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Among Youth, is a publication from the CDC that includes evidence-based guidance for schools on how to promote healthy eating and physical activity in schools. The guidelines serve as the foundation for developing, implementing, and evaluating school-based policies and practices for K-12 grade students.
- Minnesota Department of Health website includes resources for healthy eating and active schools.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Memos
Key USDA memos on wellness are available below.
Resources that will help your district comply with the local wellness policy regulations set forth by the USDA.
Action Plan Template - School Wellness Policies - 8/3/18
Using an action plan with your school wellness committee will ensure progress is being made on your wellness policy and procedures. This template is offered as a guide to help your school or district prioritize a few action steps each year.
Triennial Assessment Report Template - 8/3/18
An assessment of your local school wellness policy must be conducted a minimum of once every three years, per USDA regulations. Districts may use this template to organize the assessment your district has conducted.
Local Wellness Policy Checklist-Minnesota - 8/3/18
This checklist is an optional tool to ensure that your Local Education Agency's local school wellness policy is meeting the regulations set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
School Wellness Works! Toolkit - 1/10/17
The School Wellness Works! toolkit provides guidance and resources to help schools move from policy to action to ensure student health continues to be a top priority for schools. Many resources and tips are noted to help develop, refine, implement and monitor the well ness policy and related activities.