WHAT IS A WELLNESS POLICY?

A local school wellness policy is a written document that guides a school district’s efforts to create supportive school nutrition and physical activity environments to enhance health and learning outcomes for students. ​Every school has a responsibility to implement its district Wellness Policy which should detail the commitment to standards, practices and goals to promote and ensure a healthy school environment for optimum student well-being and achievement.

​Policies address a variety of issues, including:

  • Nutrition Education
  • Wellness Promotion & Marketing
  • Nutrition Standards for ALL foods/beverages sold/provided during the school day
  • Physical Education & Physical Activity
  • Policy Evaluation, Monitoring & Reporting to the Public

By USDA federal regulation, any local education agency (LEA) participating in the National School Lunch/Breakfast Program, including all 36 RI public school districts, must develop and implement a wellness policy as established by the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 and by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA). 

  • ​​USDA Local School Wellness Policy Regulation
    • USDA food and nutrition website detailing the background of the federal law governing local school wellness policies, along with helpful tools and other resources  

LOCAL WELLNESS POLICY MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS

At a minimum, each LEA is required by federal regulation to: ​
  1. DESIGNATE ONE OR MORE SCHOOL OFFICIALS to ensure that each school complies with the local wellness policy. 
  2. INCLUDE MEASURABLE GOALS for nutrition promotion and education, physical activity, and other school-based activities that promote student wellness utilizing evidence-based strategies and techniques in the local wellness policy. ​
  3. ​​INCLUDE POLICIES FOR FOOD AND BEVERAGE MARKETING during the school day that ONLY allow for those that meet the federal “Smart Snacks in Schools” guidelines in the local wellness policy. 
  4. ​​INCLUDE NUTRITION STANDARDS to promote student health and reduce childhood obesity for all foods available during the school day, i.e. school meals & snack foods sold MUST meet federal “Smart Snacks in Schools” guidelines AND foods shared and offered to students (classroom parties and snacks, incentives or rewards) MUST be addressed in the local wellness policy. 
  5. ​​​PERMIT STAKEHOLDERS TO PARTICIPATE in the development, implementation, and review and update of the local wellness policy. (Stakeholders include parents, students, school food authority representatives, physical education teachers, school health professionals, the school board, school administrators, and the general public.) 
  6. INFORM AND UPDATE THE PUBLIC (including parents, students, and others in the community) on an annual basis about the content of the local wellness policy.
  7. ​​MONITOR/ASSESS compliance and progress  and make those assessments public, at least once every three years.