School Wellness Policies

Overview

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A school wellness policy (SWP) 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 local SWP requirement was established by the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-265), and further strengthened by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. It requires schools and institutions that participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) school nutrition programs to develop a local SWP that promotes the health of students and addresses the growing problem of childhood obesity. The responsibility for SWP development is at the local level to allow each school district and institution to address their unique needs.

SWP Requirements

At a minimum, the SWP must:

  • include goals for nutrition promotion and education, physical activity, and other school- based activities that promote student wellness;
  • include nutrition guidelines to promote student health and reduce childhood obesity for all foods available in each school district;
  • 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.