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Model School Wellness Policies
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In the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, the U.S. Congress established a new requirement that all school districts with a federally-funded school meals program develop and implement wellness policies that address nutrition and physical activity by the start of the 2006-2007 school year [Section 204]. In response to requests for guidance on developing such policies, the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA, www.nanacoalition.org) convened a work group of more than 50 health, physical activity, nutrition, and education professionals from a variety of national and state organizations to develop a set of model policies for local school districts.

The model nutrition and physical activity policies below meet the new federal requirement. This comprehensive set of model nutrition and physical activity policies1 is based on nutrition science, public health research, and existing practices from exemplary states and local school districts around the country. The NANA work group's first priority was to promote children's health and well-being. However, feasibility of policy implementation also was considered.
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Using the Model Policies
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School districts may choose to use the following model policies as written or revise them as needed to meet local needs and reflect community priorities. When developing wellness policies, school districts will need to take into account their unique circumstances, challenges, and opportunities. Among the factors to consider are socioeconomic status of the student body; school size; rural or urban location; and presence of immigrant, dual-language, or limited-English students.

It often helps to begin by conducting a baseline assessment of schools' existing nutrition and physical activity environments. The results of school-by-school assessments can be compiled at the district level to prioritize needs. Useful self-assessment and planning tools include the School Health Index from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Changing the Scene from the Team Nutrition Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Opportunity to Learn Standards for Elementary, Middle, and High School Physical Education from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education.

A district may find it more practical to phase in the adoption of its wellness policies than to implement a comprehensive set of nutrition and physical activity policies all at once. Compromises from the ideal might be required as district decision makers consider challenges such as limited class time, curriculum requirements, and funding and space constraints.

The Appendix contains a list of selected resources to assist with the development, implementation, and monitoring/review of local wellness policies. In addition, many of the members of the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity are available to provide advice and assistance as school districts undertake this important task.

For more information, contact Joy Johanson at the Center for Science in the Public Interest at 202-332-9110 or [email protected] or Jennifer Weber at the American Dietetic Association at 202-775-8277 or [email protected].

1 Some aspects of a broader conception of "wellness" are not addressed in the model policies that follow. NANA encourages school districts to establish and maintain a coordinated school health program that addresses all components of school health, including mental health services and school health services, which are not addressed in these model policies. These model policies also do not address certain important related areas, such as counseling services for those with eating disorders; food safety policies; and policies to reduce weight-related bullying.

View the Model School Wellness Policies