Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Local School Wellness Policy

A local school wellness policy (wellness policy) is a written document that guides a local educational agency or school district’s efforts to create supportive school nutrition and physical activity environments. Each local education agency participating in federal Child Nutrition Programs, including the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program, is required to develop and implement a wellness policy as established by the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, and recently enhanced by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA)[PDF - 325.4 KB]. Wellness policies can be integrated into the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model for school health, and can help put into action several provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act, including Title I and Title IV.

Local School Wellness Policy Requirements

School districts can develop wellness policies to meet the unique needs of each school under its jurisdiction, but at a minimum are required to

  • Include goals for nutrition promotion and education, physical activity, and other school-based activities that promote students wellness. In developing these goals, local educational agencies must review and consider evidence-based strategies. 
  • Include nutrition guidelines for all foods sold on each school campus during the school day that are consistent with federal regulations for school meals and Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards.
  • Include policies for foods and beverages made available to students (e.g., in classroom parties, classroom snacks brought by parents, other foods given as incentives).
  • Include 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.
  • Permit parents, students, representatives of the school food authority, teachers of physical education, school health professionals, the school board, school administrators, and the general public to participate in the development, implementation, and update of the local school wellness policy.
  • Identify one or more school districts or school officials who have the authority and responsibility to ensure each school complies with the policy.
  • Inform and update the public (including parents, students, and others in the community) about the local school wellness policy on an annual basis.
  • At least once every three years, measure the extent to which schools are in compliance with the local school wellness policy, the extent to which the local education agency’s local wellness policy compares to model local school wellness policies, and the progress made in attaining the goals of the local wellness policy, and make this assessment available to the public.
  • Comply with all of these requirements by June 30, 2017.

Putting Local School Wellness Policies into Action

Putting Local School Wellness Policies into Action: Stories from School Districts and Schools [PDF - 2.3 MB] is a compilation of 11 stories that provide examples of steps and strategies used to implement wellness policies, including activities in key areas such as improving school meals and increasing physical activity levels among students.

Promoting Health Through Local School Wellness Policies

CDC and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supported the Bridging the GAP (BTG) research program. The nationally recognized program developed a series of briefs highlighting opportunities to support wellness policies through evidence-based strategies. These briefs assess policies across school districts nationwide during the 2012–2013 school year, related to seven wellness policy components. The briefs also highlight areas of opportunity for state agencies, school districts, and schools to strengthen wellness policy components.

Additional Resources