Extension News

Schools Required to Prepare Wellness Policies


AMES, Iowa -- All school districts will be required to create local wellness policies by June 30, 2006 as a result of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 signed by President Bush last summer. Iowa Partners for Healthy Kids, a coalition of state and community partners, will be working with schools to meet this new regulation.

"The legislation is very clear in emphasizing that policies be written at the local level to meet the needs identified by local assessments," said Ruth Litchfield, Iowa State University Extension nutritionist. "Schools need to assess their current environment and begin discussing possible policy goals."

Local education units will be required to address five areas that include: (1) set goals for nutrition education, physical activity and other school-based activities to promote student wellness; (2) choose nutrition guidelines for all food available on campus during the school day; (3) monitor guidelines for reimbursable school meals; (4) measure implementation of the policy; and (5) include parents, students, general public and school officials in planning the local policies.

Although additional guidance is expected to be released later this spring, school districts don't have to wait. "Schools can start now by establishing a school wellness policy team," said Katherine T. Thomas, Iowa Partners For Healthy Kids co-chair and Iowa State University faculty member.

Organizations such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK) offer a variety of resources on their Web sites.

A fact sheet to help school districts, "Tips for Preparing a School Wellness Policy," is available free from local ISU Extension offices and online at ISU Extension's nutrition Web site, http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/N3469.pdf. ISU Extension nutrition and health field specialists who can work directly with local school districts, plus links to resources available from other organizations can be found at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/nutrition/nutrition/wellness.php.

Contacts :

Ruth Litchfield, Food Science/Human Nutrition, (515) 294-9484, litch@iastate.edu

Diane Nelson, Continuing Education and Communication Services, (515) 294-3178, dinelson@iastate.edu

Katherine T. Thomas, Ph.D., Health and Human Performance, Iowa State University, (515) 294-8677, ktthomas@iastate.edu
Patti Harding, Lead Consultant School Meal Programs, Iowa Department of Education (515) 281-5356, patti.harding@iowa.gov
Janet Wendland, Ph. D., Team Nutrition Coordinator, Iowa Department of Education (515) 281-5676, janet.wendland@iowa.gov
Molly Pelzer, R.D., Midwest Dairy Association, (800) 406-6455, mpelzer@midwestdairy.com
Mary Vosika, Communications Specialist, Iowa Association of School Boards, 800-795-4272, mvosika@ia-sb.org