Local Wellness Policy

Each local educational agency that participates in the National School Lunch Program or other federal Child Nutrition programs is required by federal law to establish a local school wellness policy for all schools under its jurisdiction.

Local Wellness Policy
The Local Wellness Policy Final Rule, published July 2016, requires all local educational agencies that participate in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs to meet expanded local school wellness policy requirements consistent with the requirements set forth in section 204 of the Healthy, Hunger- Free Kids Act of 2010. The final rule requires each local educational agency to establish minimum content requirements for the local school wellness policies, ensure stakeholder participation in the development and updates of such policies, and periodically assess and disclose to the public schools’ compliance with the local school wellness policies. These regulations are expected to result in local school wellness policies that strengthen the ability of a local educational agency to create a school nutrition environment that promotes students’ health, well-being, and ability to learn. In addition, these regulations will increase transparency for the public with regard to school wellness policies and contribute to integrity in the school nutrition program.

Requirements for Local Wellness Policies

USDA Local Wellness Policy Final Rule Summary

All local wellness policies, at a minimum, must include

      • Goals for
      • Nutrition education
      • Nutrition promotion
      • Physical activity and
      • Other school-based activities that promote student wellness
      • Standards and nutrition guidelines for all foods and beverages sold and served to students on the school campus, during the school day;
      • Policies for food and beverage marketing that allow marketing and advertising of only those foods and beverages that meet the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards (by July 1, 2017)
      • Description of public involvement, public updates, policy leadership and evaluation plan

All LEAs must also:

      • 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, review and update of the LWP;
      • Inform and update the public (including parents, students and others in the community) about the content and implementation, and updating of LWP;
      • Assess compliance with the wellness policy requirements every 3 years to determine:
      • Compliance with the wellness policy (measuring implementation)
      • How the policy compares with model policies
      • Progress made in attaining the goals of the wellness policy.
      • Maintain a copy of the current wellness policy, how assessments are made available to the public, the most recent assessment of implementation of the policy, and documentation of efforts to review and update the policy.

LEAs must comply with all the provisions of the final rule by June 30, 2017. This means all wellness policies should be updated to include all information listed here at some point during this school year. Be sure to meet with your School Health Advisory Council and other administrators to begin working on any revisions your policies may need to be compliant.

You are encouraged to assess and gather information on your current school health environment to determine what changes are needed. There are many resources available to help you assess the environment and develop and refine your local wellness policy.

The Institute of Child Nutrition has developed an in-depth training for how to be a leader in creating an environment of wellness at your school through the Local Wellness Policy. You can register for the course on their webpage, here.

  • The School Health Index (SHI): Self-Assessment & Planning Guide is a self-assessment and planning tool that schools can use to improve their health and safety policies and programs. It’s easy to use and completely confidential.
  • This tool provides step by step guidance and resources to develop, implement and assess your local wellness policy.

All LEAs should be evaluating the extent to which the local wellness policy is being implemented, as well as how it compares to model policies.

In 2015, Rachel Hurshman, RD from Weld County School District in Colorado provided a professional development session in Arizona, highlighting the practices they employ for local wellness policy in their county. Below are links to the tools they use when assessing implementation, comparing their policy to model policies, and reporting the results to the public.

  • Sample evaluation tool: The contents of the assessment match the goals in their wellness policy, and each school completes the tool annually.
  • Sample evaluation results: Once each school completes the evaluation tool, the results can be shown in an easy to read format.