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School Wellness


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Nationwide Waiver of Local School Wellness Triennial Assessments -  Under the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, an assessment of the school wellness policy must be conducted a minimum of once every three years. The first assessment was to be completed by June 30, 2021. Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, USDA has extended the deadline to complete the first triennial assessment to June 30, 2022 for those SFAs that elected to participate in the waiver by June 30, 2021. 

Regulation and Compliance Tools

A local school wellness policy is a written document that guides a local education agency or school district's efforts to establish a school environment that promotes student health, well-being, and the ability to learn.


Nutrition Education and Promotion

Schools can provide students with opportunities to learn nutrition and engage in nutrition promotion that help students develop lifelong healthy eating behaviors.

  • Display a MyPlate poster in every classroom.
  • Teachers review school lunch menu each morning and discuss food groups.
  • Invite a Registered Dietitian or other health professional to present nutrition information to students.
  • Partner with curriculum director, family consumer science teachers, and PE teachers to incorporate nutrition education.

Resources to Support Nutrition Education and Promotion at Your School

Physical Activity

Schools can provide students and staff with opportunities to engage in physical activity that meet federal and state guidelines, including the Iowa Healthy Kids Act.

  • Provide access to the gym and exercise equipment before and after school.
  • Educate teachers and administrators the academic benefits of physical activity.
  • Demonstrate brain breaks during staff meetings to encourage teachers to use them their classrooms.
  • Discourage withholding recess as a punishment.

Resources to Support Physical Activity at Your School

Other School Based Activities

Other school based activities that promote wellness can ensure an integrated whole-school approach to the school's wellness program.

  • Create a wellness webpage that contains non-food celebration or reward ideas, school meal information, the wellness policy, and the assessment of implementation.
  • Involve high school students in organizing special events such as school-wide walks/runs or taste testing new food items in elementary schools.
  • Provide access to water fountains, dispensers, and hydration stations throughout the school.
  • Allow students to have water bottles in class or to go to the water fountain if they need to drink water.

Resources to Support Other School Based Activities that Promote Wellness

Nutrition Guidelines

Nutrition Guidelines for All Foods and Beverages Sold to Students

Schools providing access to foods outside reimbursable meal programs must meet the USDA Smart Snacks in Schools nutrition standards, at a minimum. This includes items sold through a la carte, vending machines, student run stores, and fundraising activities (before school, during school, and 30 minutes after).

  • Work with middle or high school classes or student groups to evaluate foods and beverages sold using the Smart Snacks calculator.
  • Educate administrators and teachers on Smart Snacks requirements.
  • Partner with school groups to sell foods and beverages that meet the Smart Snacks requirements.
  • Connect with food vendors to ensure they are aware of the requirements.

Resources to Support Nutrition Guidelines

  • School Meal Planning and Resources - Tools, trainings, and communication templates to assist with implementation of the school meal regulations.
  • Smart Snacks Resources - Nutrition standards, approved product lists and recipes, calculator, and student group resources.
  • Time to Eat School Meals - Strategies to consider when looking to increase the amount of time for school meals including pros and cons of implementation.
  • Making Time for School Lunch - CDC Healthy Schools Research Brief
  • Cafeteria Coaching - Utilize middle and high school students along with school nutrition staff to encourage kids to try new foods and eat nutritious school meals.

Standards for All Foods and Beverages Provided (not sold) to Students

Foods and beverages provided (not sold) to students during the school day (e.g. class parties, rewards) must meet standards set by the district. Non-food fundraising, classroom rewards, and classroom celebrations should complement the school wellness policy to provide consistent messages about health and wellness throughout the school. Best practice examples include:

  • Schools may set standards related to food safety or medical needs (i.e. allergies), best practice is that nutrition is also a consideration.
  • Provide parents and staff a list of foods and beverages that meet nutrition standards for classroom snacks and celebrations.
  • Provide ideas to teachers and staff for non-food rewards and celebrations ideas.

Resources to Support Nutrition Standards

Food and Beverage Marketing

Schools must only allow marketing and advertising of foods and beverages that meet the Smart Snacks nutrition standards on campus during the school day.

  • Provide training to staff on food and beverage marketing requirements.
  • Ensure food vendors are aware of the district's marketing policy.
  • Display posters and bulletin boards promoting healthy foods.
  • Include healthy messages and school meal menus on electronic monitors.

Wellness Leadership and Public Involvement

The superintendent or designee must implement and ensure compliance by reviewing the policy at least every 3 years and recommending updates as appropriate for board approval. Schools must permit parents, students, representatives of the school food authority, physical education teachers, school health professionals, school board, administrators, and the public to participate in the development, implementation, and review and update of the policy. Best practice examples include:

  • Schedule the wellness committee meeting to take place with another school group meeting (i.e. School Improvement Advisory Committee).
  • Delegate a wellness leader for each school building.
  • E-mail parents about upcoming wellness committee meetings.
  • Make the policy and assessment of the policy's progress available to the public by putting it on the school's wellness webpage.

Resources to Support Wellness Policy Committee and Public Involvement

  • Local School Wellness Policy Outreach Toolkit - Sample flyers, presentations, newsletter articles, and social media posts.
  • Parents for Healthy Schools - Tools for schools and groups to engage parents to create healthy school environments.
  • Health and Academics (Centers for Disease Control) - Research shows a strong connection between healthy behaviors and academic achievement.
  • MFL MarMac CSD - Local newspaper article highlighting school wellness initiatives in the district and inviting community members to be a part of the wellness committee.

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on November 26, 2021 at 8:11pm.