School Wellness Policies
School districts are required to participate in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs and develop local school wellness policies that address student nutrition and physical activity (Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004).
The 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act requires schools to:
- Permit parents to participate in the development of local school wellness policies.
- Update and inform parents about the policies’ content and implementation.
Parents often are unaware of their right to be involved with their school’s wellness committees and to have a say in the wellness policies related to nutrition and physical activity.
An effective, comprehensive school wellness policy includes:
- Nutrition education and physical activity goals
- Nutrition guidelines for all foods available on the school campus
- Ways for parents, students, school administrators, the school board, the school food authority and the general public to get involved in developing and evaluating the wellness policy
- Other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness
- Plans for evaluating the school wellness policy
What Your PTA Can Do
- To learn about your local school and district’s wellness policies. Contact your school principal and district office and ask to speak to the person responsible for overseeing the policy’s implementation and evaluation.
- Find out if your school or district has a school wellness committee. Is the PTA represented?
- Find out whether any parents are involved in the process of implementing and evaluating the policy.
Remember, parent participation on school wellness committees is a right and requirement under the law.
- School Wellness Committee Toolkit (Alliance for a Healthier Generation): created as a resource for school wellness committees to convene, plan and implement their action plans.
- Model School Wellness Policies (National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity): A set of model policies for local school districts.
- Wellness Policy Tool (Action for Heathy Kids): Helps you create a local wellness policy that meets your district's unique goals for nutrition and physical activity and take the next steps to put the policy into action.
- School Health Guidelines to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (CDC): A foundation for developing, implementing and evaluating school-based healthy eating and physical activity policies and practices.
- School Policies That Affect Physical Activity (Safe Routes to School National Partnership): Defines “barrier policies” and suggests supportive policies that encourage physical activity for students and school staff.
- Parents United for Healthy Schools (Healthy Schools Campaign): A model for engaging parents in training to organize school wellness teams and advocate for healthy changes to school food and fitness.
- Rudd ‘Roots Parents (The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity): Offers easy-to-use tools and relevant research to help parent advocates craft a compelling and well-founded argument for healthier school policies.
- The School Wellness Investigation. The National Dairy Council designed this survey to help students collect information about the current nutrition and physical activity environment in their school and identify opportunities to make it even better.