USDA updates wellness policies as part of Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act

July 8—The USDA has announced updates to school wellness policies as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program were required to have a local wellness policy in place beginning in the 2006-2007 school year. Based on provisions set forth in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, districts now are required to include additional stakeholders in the development, implementation and review of wellness policies. Schools are now required to inform and update the public—including parents, students and others in the community—about the content and implementation of the local wellness policies. These provisions will be effective beginning in the coming 2011-2012 school year. Provisions under the new bill supersede previous requirements and expand the scope of wellness policies.

“Parents understand that our commitment to teaching children healthy lifestyles requires local communities working together to make wellness a priority,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in a press release. “The updated local school wellness policies will help bring more people into this process in order to ensure kids are surrounded by a healthy school environment.”

The USDA did not specify exact requirements for how districts were to accomplish this new provision, nor who “others in the community” referred to. The Food and Nutrition Service says it will update materials on wellness policies on its website.