The Food and Nutrition Service of the United States Department of Agriculture has released its final rule regarding Local School Wellness Policies under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. All local school wellness policies must be compliant with the new rule by June 30, 2017. The new rule requires local educational agencies that participate in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs to update their wellness policies in line with the content requirements outlined in the rule. The new rule also highlights the requirement for local educational agencies to collaborate with community stakeholders in making the required updates to their wellness policies and in implementing the policies. The new rule further provides that local educational agencies must assess the effectiveness of school wellness policies on at least a triennial basis. Finally, under the new rule, each state educational agency will be responsible for evaluating the wellness policies of local educational agencies under its jurisdiction.
Under the new rule, wellness policies must include measurable goals for nutrition promotion and education, physical activity, and other school-based activities that promote student wellness. The rule further requires that local educational agencies review and consider evidence-based strategies in developing such goals. Wellness policies must also include standards for all foods and beverages provided to students during the school day at each school under the jurisdiction of the local educational agency whether the food and beverages are sold to students or provided by other means. These standards must be at least consistent with the competitive food service standards of the National School Lunch program. Additionally, wellness policies must specify that marketing of foods and beverages at school during the school day may only be permitted for foods and beverages that meet federal nutrition standards, promote student health, and reduce childhood obesity. Furthermore, wellness policies must identify the title or name of the school official responsible for implementing and overseeing the wellness policy and ensuring compliance with the policy.
The rule also provides that assessment of the wellness policy must take place at least every three years and the results of the assessment must be made available to the general public. The assessment must include the extent to which schools in the district are in compliance with the goals of the wellness policy, how the wellness policy compares with model local school wellness policies and a description of the progress made in attaining the goals listed in the school wellness policy. The agency must use the results of the triennial assessment to make any appropriate updates to the wellness policy.
Additionally, the new rule includes new requirements for the local educational agency to 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 periodic review and update of the wellness policy. Accordingly, the policy must contain a description of the manner in which these stakeholders will be included in the policy’s development and implementation and in the periodic review and updating of the policy. The policy must also include a description of the method by which the agency will inform the public about the content and implementation of the policy and about the agency’s progress toward meeting the goals outlined in the policy, including the results of the triennial assessment.
Finally, the new rule includes recordkeeping requirements regarding the wellness policy. Each local educational agency must retain records including, but not limited to, the written wellness policy, documentation demonstrating compliance with community involvement requirements, especially those related to notification of the general public of the wellness policy and triennial assessment, and documentation related to the triennial assessment for each school in the school district.
The full text of the rule can be found by clicking here.
Questions or Assistance:
For more information about the USDA Food and Nutrition Service rule regarding school wellness policies, please contact Jessica Soufer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-251-5822.