USDA released the final rule on local school wellness policies, which were updated by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Local wellness policies help schools ensure robust implementation of the updated nutrition standards for school meals, snacks, and beverages, as well as address other school foods and physical activity. Many NANA members work to strengthen local wellness policies and submitted comments (generating over 3,000 comments) on the proposed rule. See USDA's press release.
Schools are working hard to offer healthier meals and snacks and according to Bridging the Gap, 95 percent of school districts have local wellness policies (as of school year 2013-14). However most school districts will need to realign their existing wellness policies with the updated requirements. Further, many school districts’ will need to strengthen implementation of their local wellness policy to ensure that it is in effect in each school within the district.
Local wellness policies also can address other ways to improve nutrition and physical activity for students, such as shifting unhealthy school fundraisers to profitable healthy food or non-food fundraisers; ensuring school celebrations support healthy eating and physical activity, and using non-food rewards; and providing ample opportunities for physical activity, quality physical education, and recess.
- Local wellness policies will all need to include a policy addressing marketing of unhealthy food and beverages (foods and beverages that do not meet the Smart Snacks standards). According to Bridging the Gap, only 14 percent of school district local wellness policies restricted the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages in school as of school year 2013-14.
- Local wellness policies will have more involvement from public and school community, increased public availability, and an annual progress report.>
- Local wellness policies will have enhanced compliance (designated school official for compliance, district policies will be assessed as part of school food administrative review every 3 years).
- Given recent updates to national school nutrition standards for school meals, and snacks and beverages (Smart Snacks), most school districts will likely need to realign their local wellness policy with the updated standards.
- School districts were already supposed to be setting goals for nutrition promotion, nutrition education, physical activity, and school wellness activities, but updated goals should be based on evidence-based strategies.
For more information, please go to http://www.schoolwellnesspolicies.org/.
USDA also released the final rule on Smart Snacks (what is currently in effect as an interim final rule) in addition to final rules on the Community Eligibility Provision and the Administrative Reviews. USDA is opening up for comment whether to remove the total fat standard from Smart Snacks. Please let us know if you are interested in working together on a model comment.
Can you help spread the word on local wellness policies? In addition to model social media below, we have a model op-ed, talking points for working with the media, and advocacy resources for advocates and schools (developed in partnership between NANA members and the Voices for Healthy Kids School Health Policy Consortium). These resources will be updated and in PDF format in the coming weeks. Please let me know how you are able to use these resources and get the word out.
- New resources at schoolwellnesspolicies.org can help schools update #schoolwellness policy; support healthier eating & physical activity
- 1/3 kids are overweight or obese; #schoolwellness policy supports healthy eating & physical activity www.schoolwellnesspolicies.org
- Child obesity affects health, academics & wellbeing: #schoolwellness policy can help www.schoolwellnesspolicies.org
- #Schoolwellness policy improves nutrition for all kids, decreases health disparities www.schoolwellnesspolicies.org
- Let’s update #schoolwellness policy to remove unhealthy food & beverage marketing from schools www.schoolwellnesspolicies.org
- #Schoolwellness policy supports continued progress on school meals, snacks & beverages www.schoolwellnesspolicies.org
- #Schoolwellness policy should address parties, rewards & all school food www.schoolwellnesspolicies.org
- Increase physical activity, recess, and physical education through #schoolwellness policy www.schoolwellnesspolicies.org
- Help kids be active, healthy, and academically successful through #schoolwellness policy www.schoolwellnesspolicies.org
- Does your school district have a strong local wellness policy? Find out how your school can implement one that supports healthy eating and physical activity for all students: www.schoolwellnesspolicies.org
- Healthy kids learn better. One key way to support children’s health and learning is to ensure that your school district has a strong local wellness policy that supports healthy eating and physical activity for all students. Modelling healthy eating and physical activity in schools can set kids on a path for healthy lives. Find out more at www.schoolwellnesspolicies.org
Senior Nutrition Policy Associate
Center for Science in the Public Interest
1220 L Street, NW, Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20005