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School Nutrition Programs Compliance Handbook

Chapter 11 - Local School Wellness Policy

*All Referenced forms are available upon request.

Schools and RCCIs play a critical role in creating a healthy environment for the prevention of childhood obesity and for combating problems, such as Type 2 diabetes, that are associated with poor nutrition and physical inactivity.  To help combat childhood obesity and to improve children's health, the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 (PL # 108-265) requires each school food authority that receives funding for the USDA Child Nutrition Programs to establish a local school wellness policy.

The Reauthorization Act of 2004 places the responsibility of developing a school wellness policy at the local school level.  Each school/RCCI is responsible for developing, implementing, and measuring the success of a local wellness policy.  This includes all schools and RCCIs sponsored by the OKDHS, School Nutrition Programs. 

Section 204 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (the Act), Public Law 111-296, added Section 9A to the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA) (42 U.S.C. 1758b), Local School Wellness Policy Implementation, Section 204 of the Act strengthens wellness policies by emphasizing ongoing implementation and assessment. This provision also supports a robust process at the community level, including the expansion of the team of collaborators participating in the wellness policy development to include more members from the community. Additionally, The Act added the requirement that local wellness policies include goals for nutrition promotion.

LEAs are now required to permit teachers of physical education and school health professionals as well as parents, students, and representatives of the school food authority, the school board, school administrators, and the public to participate in the development of wellness policies. The Act also expanded the purpose of the team of collaborators beyond the development of a local wellness policy to also include the implementation of the local wellness policy with periodic review and updates.

Requirements

As required by law, a local wellness policy, at a minimum, shall include:

  • Goals for nutrition promotion, nutrition education, physical activity, and other school-based activities that are designed to promote student wellness in a manner that the SFA determines is appropriate;
  • Include Nutrition guidelines selected by the SFA for all foods available on each school campus under the SFA during the school day with the objectives of promoting student health and reducing childhood obesity;
  • Permit parents, students, representatives of the school food authority, teachers of physical education, school health professionals, the school board, school administrators, and the general public to participate in the development, implementation, and review and update of the local wellness policy.
  • Inform and update the public (including parents, students, and others in the community) about the content and implementation of local wellness policies.
  • Be measured periodically on the extent to which schools are in compliance with the local wellness policy, the extent to which the local education agency's local wellness policy compares to model local school wellness policies, and the progress made in attaining the goals of the local wellness policy, and make this assessment available to the public.

Community Involvement

Community involvement also requires schools to inform and update the public (including parents, students, and others in the community) about the content and implementation of the local wellness policies. LEAs are also required to measure periodically and make available to the public an assessment of the local wellness policy, including:

  • The extent to which schools are in compliance with the local wellness policy;
  • The extent to which the LEA's local wellness policy compares to model local school wellness policies; and
  • The progress made in attaining the goals of the local wellness policy.

TRIENNIAL Review

After, developing and implementing a local wellness plan schools and SFAs are required to review the plan, at once within a three year period to determine its effectiveness.  When a policy is not carried out by staff members, or deemed unsuccessful, designated personnel should take steps to revise the policy and to ensure that effectiveness of the program.Starting July 1, 2017, each SFA is required to develop a triennial assessment report that describes extent to which the SFA site(s) comply with the local wellness policy, and a description of progress towards attaining policy goals described in 7 CFR Part 210.31 (e)(2).  Each SFA has discretion on the format of this report.

Best practice for each SFA should be to review their site(s) local wellness policy more frequently than the required triennial assessment. The following questions should be asked when conducting one of these reviews, as well as during the required triennial review of each of the SFAs site(s) Local Wellness Policy:

  • Are the goals measurable?
  • Is the program implemented according to policy?
  • Does the school need to revise policy and procedures to increase the effectiveness of the Local Wellness Policy?  

During the required triennial review SFAs are required to compare each site's local wellness policy with a model local wellness policy [7CFR Part 210.31 (e) (2) (ii)]. Contact our office for a copy of a model local wellness policy.

To assist schools in complying with these requirements, the School Nutrition Programs provides a guideline to developing an effective local school wellness policy, along with sample language for a policy. This guidance adopts language taken from the Mississippi Department of EducationGuide for Developmentand fromUSDA, Team Nutrition Local Wellness Policy website.  This local wellness guide includes all the minimum requirements necessary to comply with the federal law.  In addition, it offers additional policy options that schools are encouraged to utilize in developing their specific goals. During the initial drafting, refer to the prototype triennial wellness policy assessment report, take a look at the model wellness policy and Team Nutrition's Local School Wellness Policy page (https://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/local-school-wellness-policy).

Parent and Child Involvement
In addition to the Local Wellness Plan, all SFAs must comply with the federal regulations 7 CFR 210.12, which require SFAs to promote activities to involve student and parents.  Such activities may include menu planning, enhancing the eating environment, nutritional education and other school related activities that promote nutrition.  Food Service Management Companies and RCCIs are required to comply with this regulation to the extent possible.   SFAs should document activities to demonstrate compliance. 

 *All Referenced forms are available upon request.

If you need further information on the evaluation process, the following resources are among those available to assist you:

Evaluation Primer: An overview of education evaluation. This material is excerpted from Understanding Evaluation: The Way to Better Prevention Programs[PDF].

Evaluating Community Programs and Initiatives (chapter 36-39 of the Community Toolbox) developed by the University of Kansas Work Group on Health Promotion and Community Development. This document contains information on developing a plan for evaluation, methods for evaluation and using evaluation to understand and improve the initiative. Available at: https://ctb.ku.edu/en/evaluating-community-programs-and-initiatives

Reference: 

Team Nutrition Local School Wellness Policy Page, United States Department of Agriculture.  Located at:

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