To the editor:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service proposed regulations in February of 2014 to create a framework and guidelines for written local wellness policies within each school district. Wellness policies have been required for schools participating in the National School Lunch (and/or Breakfast) Program since 2006 and further strengthened with the establishment of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
More specific goals for written wellness policies can help schools promote an environment where children are healthy and ready to learn. The proposed rule has parameters for nutrition promotion and education, physical activity, school-based activities that promote student wellness, and guidelines on the upcoming Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards. Additionally, the proposed regulation sets up expectations that schools will review their current wellness policies every three years and update them as necessary based on the needs of the school district. The proposed rule, and a link for the comment period, can be found online on the USDA website.
Many schools in our region have already worked hard to develop wellness policies that promote healthy choices for students. It's important that schools have public support to as they implement these policies, thereby helping our children thrive in a healthy environment, ready to learn. The entire community, parents, caregivers, and schools all help reinforce that healthy messages are important to send to our children to improve student health.
Senior public health educator
Healthy Schools NY
Clinton County Health Department