Policy & Practice

  • Local School Wellness Policy: Access Requirements and Download Free Templates

    In recognition of the critical role schools play in promoting student health, preventing obesity and combating problems associated with poor nutrition and physical inactivity, Congress passed the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act in 2004, which required all local education agencies (LEAs) that participate in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Program to develop and implement a local school wellness policy. This legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so that the individual needs of each LEA could be addressed.

    According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, at minimum, the local school wellness policy must:

    • 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 wellness policy.
    • Identify wellness policy leadership of one or more LEA and/or school official(s) who have the authority and responsibility to ensure each school complies with the policy.
    • Inform and update the public (including parents, students and others in the community) about the content and implementation of the local school wellness policy.
    • Ensure the wellness policy includes all of the required components:
      • Specific goals for nutrition promotion, nutrition education, physical activity and other school-based activities that promote student wellness. LEAs are required to review and consider evidence-based strategies in determining these goals.
      • Nutrition guidelines for all foods and beverages available or for sale on the school campus during the school day that are consistent with Federal regulations for:
        • School meal nutrition standards, and
        • Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards 
      • Policies for other foods and beverages available on the school campus during the school day (e.g., in classroom parties, shared classroom snacks or other foods given as incentives).
      • 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.
      • Description of the plan for public involvement, public updates, policy leadership and assessment plan.
    • Schools and districts can use the Wellness School Assessment Tool (WellSAT) to analyze wellness policies. This process will produce a policy-level analysis of wellness in the district to supplement the practice-level information identified through the school health assessment.

    To download free wellness policy templates for use, click on the resources below:

    Looking for additional wellness policy guidance and resources? Click here to access materials through the Pennsylvania Department of Education website.

    Original source: https://www.education.pa.gov/Teachers%20-%20Administrators/Food-Nutrition/Resources/Pages/Local-Wellness.aspx

  • How to Revise an Existing Wellness Policy

    A wellness policy is a set of statements around the healthy practices promoted within your school district. School districts participating in the National School Lunch Program are required to develop a wellness policy that is made publicly available and contains, at a minimum, nutrition practices, nutrition education, physical activity and an evaluation plan. Revising this policy frequently to reflect current practices will help to engage parents and families and to ensure that nutrition and physical activity guidelines are being met. To begin revising your wellness policy:

    • Use the Wellness School Assessment Tool (WellSAT) to analyze wellness policies.
    • Identify sections of the wellness policy that score as a “0” or “1”.
    • Note: Revision of a wellness policy should be performed within a wellness council subcommittee.

    Additional Tips to for Wellness Policy Revisions:

    1. Policy vs Practice – revising policy language to reflect wellness practice
      • Does your policy match practice?
        • Are you doing something that supports wellness but it is not reflected in your policy?
    2. Examine policy wording
      • Make sure your wording is as specific as possible
      • Avoid language that is too vague or unclear
      • It’s possible that you can revise wording to include specific examples or phrasing (i.e. free, Go for the Greens, ALL students, USDA)
    3. Other additions
      • These areas may not be identified on WellSAT, but are worth including to highlight the great things your school is doing
      • Determine which section of the wellness policy it would fit into
      • Develop wording and include in policy
    4. Next Steps
      • Identify sections of the wellness policy that are still scored as a “0” or “1”
      • Determine next steps for your school to address these gaps
      • Utilize planning procedures to begin thinking about ways to improve and enhance wellness initiatives in your school
      • Take action and continue to evaluate and revise policy and programs
      • Circle back and continue to make necessary changes to your wellness policy

    Click here
    to view the wellness policy minimum requirements for inclusion prior to revision.

    Click here to access both sample language and a blank scorecard to complete your WellSAT assessment.

  • Wellness Practice Assessments: Measure Strengths, Weakness with Free Tools

    To supplement your policy-level assessments, each school/district can gather practice-level information identified through a school health assessment. School health assessment tools will engage the school community in discussions around promoting good health within the school/district. These tools help to identify strengths and weakness of health policies and programs and provide the opportunity to create an action plan based around those findings to improve school health.

    The Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program provides a robust virtual platform and direct services for schools. Create a profile for your school to complete the Healthy Schools Assessment.

    Another great resource is the Action for Healthy Kids’ (AFHK) School Health Index. Similar to the Healthy Schools Assessment, this wellness assessment will help you examine your school environment including health education, nutrition, physical activity, competitive foods and beverages, family and community involvement, staff wellness, healthy and safe school environments, and health services

  • What is a School Wellness Council?

    A school wellness council is vital to the success of a school district’s healthy living initiatives; members of a school wellness council are responsible for the development, planning and implementation of wellness programs and oversight of policy revision and maintenance. The council focuses on the health and the well-being of students and staff that concerns itself with:

    • assessing the school’s health status
    • guiding school health policies
    • and coordinating activities on health topics. 

    An effective wellness council is diverse and comprises district wide representation, including but not limited to, administration, teachers, coaches, students, food service personnel and community members.

    What qualifies as an “active” wellness council?

    • Host meetings every other month, at least four times per academic year
    • Completed or is in the process of completing a school/district assessment
    • As a result of completing an assessment, has identified priority areas to address via an agreed upon action plan
    • Has a defined process for continual evaluation and updating of the action plan
    • Annually assesses the contents of the districts wellness policy

    Click here to learn how to form a school wellness council.

  • 3 Steps to Form a School Wellness Council

    Step 1: Build a Team

    Alliance for a Healthier Generation recommends that a school wellness council should consist of 6-12 members and include school staff, students, families and community members. The council should represent the diversity of your community and include individuals that have a passion for children’s health, have an influence in the school and community, and have time to commit to supporting the council’s goals.  

    Tips to get started:

    Step 2: Start Recruiting

    Once you’ve identified potential council members, it’s time to invite them to join your team. Email, snail mail or hand deliver a Wellness Council Invitation to each prospective team member.

    Don’t forget: your council needs may change based on action plan priorities, school needs and district goals; be prepared to recruit new members to join the council as-needed to support your goals. 

    Step 3: Plan a Meeting

    Once your wellness council is formed, use Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program Leader’s Guide to create your action plan. Start by scheduling at least four council meetings throughout the school year.

    Once you’ve formed your school wellness council, it’s time to begin working on your local school wellness policy.

    Original source: https://www.healthiergeneration.org/

School Health Assessments: Healthier Schools Start Here!

View Video

School Wellness Councils

View Video

Local Wellness Policy Implementation

View Video

Wellness Councils That Work

View Video

Pennsylvania School Boards Association’s Local School Wellness Policy Template


Alliance for a Healthier Generation Wellness Policy Template


Alliance for a Healthier Generation

Offers resources to help create a healthy school climate by implementing non-food rewards and templates for including non-food rewards within a wellness policy.

View Resource

CDC – Effective Health Education Curriculum

Designing health education curricula can be challenging, the CDC provides a list of characteristics to aid in the design of an Effective Health Education Curriculum.

View Resource

CDC – Increasing Access to Drinking Water in Schools

View a resources to help schools increase access to drinking water. The toolkit includes: how to conduct a needs assessment, how to implement healthy practices and steps to evaluate the efficacy of those practices.

View Resource

Coalition for Community Schools

Find resources for family engagement to help schools provide parents with tools to promote parent leadership and education.

View Resource

National Health Education Standards (NHES)

Valuable resources provided to help create health education curriculum with clear expectations.

View Resource

Pennsylvania Department of Education

To promote student health, prevent obesity and combat problems associated with poor nutrition and physical inactivity, Congress passed the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act in 2004, which required all local education agencies (LEAs) that participate in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Program to develop and implement a local school wellness policy. View templates, webinars and resources to create a local school wellness policy.

View Resource

Wellness School Assessment Tool – WellSAT 3.0

The quantitative assessment tool helps score and improve local School Wellness Policies. All WellSAT items reflect the federal law or best practices. The purpose of scoring your district policy is to identify where it is strong and where it could be improved.

View Resource