Guest Post by Tricia Godfrey, School Food Initiative School Outreach Manager.
The 2004 mandate that all school districts create, implement and monitor their own wellness policies could be a powerful tool for improving student health and wellness, but it only works if community members seize the opportunity.
Districts are required to permit parents, students, representatives of the school food authority, the school board, school administration, school health officials, physical education teachers, and the public to participate in the development of the district wellness policy.
These Wellness Committees host ongoing conversations with the broader school community. As the community refines the reach of wellness goals and the effectiveness of implementation, district wellness policies become customized to the priorities and unique culture of each school community.
It was the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act that required all school districts to establish local school wellness policies. In 2010, The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act expanded the scope of wellness policies, inviting additional stakeholders into their development, implementation and review processes. The 2010 act also requires public updates on the content and implementation of wellness policies, as well as goals for nutrition promotion.
At a minimum, a district wellness policy must include goals for nutrition, education, physical activity, and other school-based activities to promote student wellness, as well as nutrition guidelines for all foods available on school campus. Some districts and schools have also used their wellness policy as an instrument to address important issues such as bullying, workplace wellness, breakfast programs, and healthy fundraising.
Because a district’s wellness policy is a living document that grows and changes over time, districts are also required to establish a plan for periodic measurement and communication with the general public regarding compliance and progress. The local Wellness Committee helps a district meet these requirements.
Participating in your district’s Wellness Committee offers an opportunity to address the health and wellness needs of the whole child, learn about the many challenges facing the diverse stakeholders in public education, and create wellness policies that will influence the health and prosperity of future generations.
Contact your local school district to learn how to join or form a Wellness Committee.
Learn more at these sites:
Here are some examples of Wellness Policies from two local districts: