The following is a guest post from Cheryl Jackson Lewis, Director, Nutrition, Education, Training, and Technical Assistance Division, Child Nutrition Programs, Food and Nutrition Service.
Have you set any goals for health and wellness in 2017? There are many ways superintendents can help schools create and cultivate a culture of academic success and wellness. District leaders across the country are championing Local School Wellness Policies, with an understanding that kids with healthier eating patterns and enough physical activity tend to have better grades; remember what was taught in class; behave better in class; and miss less school time. A Local School Wellness Policy is a written document that guides school district’s efforts to establish a school environment that promotes students’ health, well-being, and ability to learn. Superintendents play a critical role in helping children have healthy places to learn; and it’s easier than ever to bring everyone together on this important issue.
The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 added new provisions for the implementation, evaluation, and public involvement and reporting on the progress of Local School Wellness Policies. The Local School Wellness Policy final rule, published July 21, 2016, requires schools to engage parents, students, and community members in the annual development and assessment of local school wellness policies. It’s important for everyone to be a part of this process so the wellness policy is representative of the community and student’s needs. Local educational agencies must fully comply with the requirements of the final rule by June 30, 2017.
| Parents, school staff and administrators, and community members work together to develop the Local School Wellness Policy and put it into action.
The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Team Nutrition initiative provides a free Local Wellness Policy Outreach Toolkit that superintendents, school wellness leaders, and schools can customize to communicate information about their Local School Wellness Policy to parents, principals, and other school staff. The kit includes:
- A letter to the wellness coordinator;
- Sample letter to school principals;
- Informational flyers, in English and Spanish;
- Presentations for parents and school staff;
- Sample newsletter article; and
- Social media posts and graphics.
The free Local Wellness Policy Outreach Toolkit is available at: https://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/local-school-wellness-policy-outreach-toolkit.
Parents and school staff are not always aware of the Local School Wellness Policy and how it is being put into action. These tools can help and may be customized to reflect information specific to the school/school district’s policy. Additional Local Schools Wellness Policy resources on creating, implementing, and evaluating school wellness policies are available at Team Nutrition’s Web site: https://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/local-school-wellness-policy.
January is a great time to reflect on how to further your efforts to engage parents, school staff and the community in school wellness efforts that support academic performance and health. Start with these ready resources and put a plan into action that works for your schools.
Nutrition education and promotion are part of a Local School Wellness Policy.