Local Wellness Policies: Start Your School Health Makeover Today

Healthy Food Choices in Schools December 23, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

school wellness

Making the healthy choice the easy choice for families is a cornerstone effort for many national organizations including the national Partnership for a Healthier America. One way to support families in their pursuit of health, is to ensure that the schools their children attend create environments where the healthy choice is the easy choice.  Thanks to a provision in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, school districts across the nation are now required by law to develop policies designed to create healthy school environments. These policies, called Local Wellness Policies (LWP), must contain certain elements and inform and update the public about its contents. Policies must also contain standards for foods and beverages campus-wide, which include classroom parties and school celebrations.  LWPs are the perfect vehicle for school wellness advocates to create environments where students can practice healthy behaviors.

Follow these four steps to start your school’s makeover:

  1. Get the facts. Find out what needs to be included in LWPs.  
  2. Find out if a LWP committee is operating and ask to participate.
  3. Choose one of the following online resources to check if your policy is as good as it can be. 
  4. Bring your policy to life by using the following online resources:
    1. Keep the fun in fundraisers by using the below ideas as a guide:
    2. Provide exciting healthy school party ideas using the following resources:

Final tips:

  • Make sure to include students on the planning and implementation teams.
  • Be transparent. Make sure school administrators, teachers, students and parents understand the policies and why they should be implemented.
  • Foster administrative and parent support by taking pictures of smiling kids enjoying healthier foods, being active, and being more attentive in class. 
  • Have fun! It’s important that students, parents and staff, enjoy healthy changes in order to make lasting changes. 

Forming a strong team will help create reasonable policies that will drive students and staff to practice healthier behaviors. Ultimately, this work will move future generations to live healthier, more productive lives.


Contributors 

Nicholas Drzal, RD, MPH, Michigan Department of Education 

Whitney Fung, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences 


 

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.