Louisiana school districts expecting federal lunch reimbursements must have a school wellness policy in place at the start of the 2006 academic year. This is the provision of an act of Congress signed by President George W. Bush in 2004.
The law applies to school districts participating in the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966.
Many Louisiana school districts already have taken steps to establish nutrition and physical activity policies, as well as providing model policy language and guidelines for developing wellness policies, according to LSU AgCenter food and nutrition professor Dr. Annrose Guarino.
Guarino and a team of AgCenter nutritionists helped author the Louisiana Department of Education Model School Wellness Policy, which parents, teachers and school administrators can use to develop their own policies for local districts.
Wellness policies combine education with practice to create healthful school environments and encourage healthy behavior. As required by law, a local wellness policy, at a minimum, includes:
1. Goals for nutrition education, physical activity and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness in a manner that the local educational agency determines is appropriate.
2. Sample policy language, existing state and local policies, implementation tools and resources for nutrition education and physical activity.
3. Other school-based activities designed to promote wellness.
4. Nutrition guidelines for foods available on each school campus under the local educational agency during the school day with the objectives of promoting student health and reducing childhood obesity.
5. Guidelines for reimbursable school meals in which districts must ensure that reimbursable school meals meet the program requirements and nutrition standards.
6. A plan for measuring implementation of the local wellness policy, including designation of one or more persons within the local educational agency or at each school, as appropriate, charged with operational responsibility for ensuring that each school fulfills the district's local wellness policy.
7. Community involvement, including parents, students and representatives of the school food authority, the school board, school administrators and the public in the development of the school wellness policy.
Guarino says that school systems may use the model policy as a tool to develop and assess their own school wellness policies based on national nutrition standards and guidelines. The model provides districts an opportunity to see what a local wellness policy looks like.
A local wellness policy should address all components required by Law (Section 204 of the P.L. 108-265). That means it should address goals for nutrition education, physical activity, nutrition standards for foods and beverages sold on school campus during the school day along with school-based activities that promote student wellness and establish a plan for measuring implementation.
The model may be found by entering Wellness Policy Template in the search box on the LSU AgCenter Web page at http://www.lsuagcenter.com/.
Louisiana Health Index Web site has additional helpful information located at http://www.doe.state.la.us/doe/dna/lashi/homepage.asp.
On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com
On the Internet: Wellness policy model: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/food_health/education_resources/
On the Internet: La Health Index: http://www.doe.state.la.us/doe/dna/lashi/homepage.asp
Source: Annrose Guarino (225) 578-4475, or Aguarino@agcenter.lsu.edu