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Local Wellness Policies - Two Years Later: How Are Districts Doing and What Can State Boards of Education Do to Support Their Implementation?

Chriqui JF, Schneider L and Chaloupka FJ. The State Education Standard: The Journal of the National Association of State Boards of Education: 43-47, 2009.

For the past two school years, local school districts throughout the country that participate in the National School Lunch or Child Nutrition Programs have been required to develop and implement local wellness policies as part of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004. These policies were to have been developed with the involvement of parents, students, school food authority representatives, the school board, school administrators, and the public; be in place by the first day of the 2006-07 school year; and include the following:

1. Goals for nutrition education, physical activity, and other school-based activities that are designed to promote student wellness in a manner that the local education agency determines is appropriate;

2. Nutrition guidelines for all foods available on each school campus during the school day with the objective of promoting student health and reducing childhood obesity;

3. An assurance that guidelines for reimbursable school meals are not less restrictive than the regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and

4. A plan for measuring implementation of the policy, including designation of one or more persons at each school with operational responsibility for ensuring that the school is meeting the policy requirements.

For some districts, the wellness policy requirement was completely new. However, in many cases, the wellness policy requirement did not cause districts to do anything that they were not already doing. In fact, many districts already had policies regarding competitive foods and school meals or regarding nutrition education.

Thus, the federal legislation sought to ensure that district policies across the country would uniformly address certain issues. The federal legislation set minimum requirements for the district policies, but districts may add additional provisions or exceed the requirements of the federal legislation.

Read complete article (PDF) on National Association of State Boards of Education

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