The deadline is looming… are you ready? The “deadline” in question is the date for Local School Wellness Policy Compliance – June 30, 2017. All Local Education Agencies (LEAs) that participate in the USDA reimbursable meal programs must fully comply with the requirements of the final Local School Wellness Policy (LWP) rule by June 30, 2017.

Is your district ready? Many district wellness committees have worked on their local wellness policies to meet the final rule, but there still may be some confusion on what is required. Is it crunch time or is your district already compliant? Let’s take a quick quiz to test your knowledge and see if you are a wellness champion! Once you've taken the quiz, come back to the blog to learn more about the LWP final rule.

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So what is this final rule, and what is required? The final rule required LEAs to begin developing a revised local school wellness policy during School Year 2016-2017. Now that the school year is done – or almost done - LEAs must fully comply with the requirements of the final rule by June 30, 2017.

The requirements include:

  • Increased involvement in the policy process by allowing parents, students, representatives of the school food authority, teachers (physical education and health in particular), school health professionals, the school board, school administrators, and the general public to participate in the development, implementation, review, and update of the local wellness policy.

This may seem like a lot of people, but permitting this participation will lead to more buy-in and transparency in your policy process.

  • Accountability for the policy by identifying by district position title(s) who will take leadership and responsibility to ensure each school complies with the policy. The leadership must have the authority to enforce the policy.

Who at your district has the responsibility and ability to enforce the policy? You may want to specify leadership at district and school levels, too, although that is not required.

  • Informing and updating the public (including parents, students, and others in the community) about the content and implementation of the local wellness policy.

This is vital for your policy success. Keeping everyone in the loop with what the policy says can also be a boon for your nutrition services. Focus on the positives (rather than the “not allowed” items). Consider how your department can help parents, teachers and staff meet the nutritional requirements. Share the information on your webpage and other communications.

  • Ensuring the wellness policy includes all of the required components. See list below.

LWP required components

§ Specific goals for nutrition promotion and 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, classroom snacks brought by parents, 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 public involvement, public updates, policy leadership, and evaluation plans.

 

These required components are really the meat of your policy. Advice here is to address each component individually, and use S.M.A.R.T. goals. In addition, evaluation of the policy refers to an internal assessment at least once every three years. The District must assess the extent to which its schools are in compliance with the district policy, the extent to which the local wellness policy compares to model local school wellness policies, and the progress made in attaining the goals of the local wellness policy. LEAs must make this assessment available to the public, such as in public record meeting minutes and/or on the district website.

Finally, keep in mind that local control is still part of school wellness policies. Districts can choose to be stricter than the federal standards and address other whole child initiatives. For more information there are online resources. USDA has an online wellness policy toolkit to help you become a wellness champion. Check it out to learn more. The Team Nutrition webpage has many resources that pertain to local wellness policies.

If you’d like more information, a “wellness policy check up” or additional guidance, Pro•Team’s foodservice experts are here to help. For more information, contact Kymm Mutch at (414) 331-4412 or Kymm@proteamdvisors.com. Visit our website at www.proteamadvisors.com.