School Wellness Policies

Overview

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A local school wellness policy (LSWP) is a written document of official policies that guide a local educational agency (LEA) or school district’s efforts to establish a school environment that promotes students’ health, well-being, and ability to learn by supporting healthy eating and physical activity. The responsibility for LSWP development is at the local level to allow each school district and institution to address their unique needs.

The local SWP requirement was established by the Child Nutrition and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Reauthorization Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-265) and was effective with school year 2006-07. This law requires that all schools and institutions participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) must develop a LSWP that promotes the health of students and addresses the growing problem of childhood obesity.  Section 204 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 strengthened the LSWP law by adding requirements for public participation, transparency, and implementation. These requirements were effective August 29, 2016, under the USDA's final rule, Local School Wellness Policy Implementation Under the HHFKA of 2010,

LSWP Requirements

At a minimum, the LSWP must:

  • include goals for nutrition promotion and education, physical activity, and other school- based activities that promote student wellness;
  • include nutrition guidelines for all foods and beverages on school premises during the school day that are available for sale to students or given to students;
  • 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; and
  • 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.

LSWP Triennial Assessment

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Final Rule: Local School Wellness Policy Implementation Under the HHFKA of 2010 requires that each local LEA must complete an assessment of their LSWP at least once every three years. The first LSWP assessment was required by June 30, 2022, as established by the USDA's COVID-19: Child Nutrition Response #98: Nationwide Waiver of Local School Wellness Policy Triennial Assessments in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast. The second triennial assessment will be due by June 30, 2025. 

LSWP Triennial Assessment Report

All Connecticut sponsors of the NSLP and SBP completed their triennial assessment by June 30, 2022, as required by the USDA's Final Rule: Local School Wellness Policy Implementation Under the HHFKA of 2010. The University of Connecticut Rudd Center for Food Policy and Health created a triennial assessment report using Wellness School Assessment Tool (WellSAT) data from 110 NSLP and SBP sponsors. Each sponsor's individual item policy scores were matched and compared with their corresponding practice implementation scores.