Wellness Policy Mandate

The Local School Wellness Policy, part of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, requires each school district participating in the National School Lunch Program and/or School Breakfast Program to develop a local wellness policy that promotes the health of students and addresses the growing problem of childhood obesity. These policies must be in place by fall of 2006.

According to the policy administered by the USDA, school districts must set goals for nutrition education and physical activity, set nutrition guidelines for all foods and beverages available on school campuses during the school day, and set goals for other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness. Parents, students, the school food authority, the school board, school administrators, and the public must be a part of the development process.

Currently, the federal government sets nutritional guidelines for school lunches, breakfast and snacks, but has no control over the nutritional value of other foods offered in school by vending machines, through fundraisers, or in the a la carte line. Instead of broadening the mandate of the federal government, the wellness policy requires local schools and communities to set their own standards for nutrition and fitness. Wellness policies can include limits on advertising of junk food and soda, encourage local farm-to-school connections, set guidelines for products sold at fundraisers, encourage participation in school nutrition programs, and much more.

The following websites have information about wellness policy requirements and contain sample language for school and district wellness policies:

Legal Requirements of the Wellness Policy
USDA: www.fns.usda.gov/tn/Healthy/wellness_policyrequirements.html

Sample Wellness Policies
Action for Health Kids: www.actionforhealthykids.org
The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC): www.frac.org
Center for Food and Justice: http://departments.oxy.edu/uepi/cfj/policy.htm
Center for Ecoliteracy: www.ecoliteracy.org