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Local School Wellness Policy


Congress recognizes the important role schools play in promoting the health of youth. In 2004, Congress passed the Child Nutrition and Women Infants and Children (WIC) Reauthorization Act (Sec. 204 of P.L. 108-205). This act required by law that all local education agencies participating in the National School Lunch Program or other child nutrition programs create local wellness policies. The legislation places the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each local education agency can be addressed.

In 2010, Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (Sec. 204 of P.L. 111-296) [pdf 319K] and added new provisions for local wellness policies related to implementation, evaluation, and publicly reporting on progress of local wellness policies.


The Act requires each local educational agency participating in the National School Lunch Program or other child nutrition programs to establish a local school wellness policy for all schools under its jurisdiction. Each local education agency must designate one or more local education agency officials or school officials to ensure that each school complies with the local wellness policy.

At a minimum, a local school wellness policy must—

  • Include goals for nutrition promotion and education, physical activity, and other school-based activities that promote student wellness
  • Include nutrition guidelines to promote student health and reduce childhood obesity for all foods available in each school district
  • 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 review and update of the local wellness policy
  • Inform and update the public (including parents, students, and others in the community) about the content and implementation of local wellness policies
  • Be measured periodically on the extent to which schools are in compliance with the local 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

Tools and Resources

In response to this mandate, both federal and nonfederal agencies have responded with tools and resources for schools to assist with developing, implementing and evaluating local wellness policies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, acting through CDC, are charged with providing information and technical assistance to local education agencies, school food authorities, and state educational agencies to meet the 2010 local wellness policy requirements and establish healthy school environments that are intended to promote student health and wellness. For more information, refer to —

School District Wellness Policies: Evaluating Progress and Potential for Improving Children's Health
Bridging the Gap, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded research program, provides reports examining the latest data on wellness policies from nationally representative samples of school districts.

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Team Nutrition
Provides reference materials related to local wellness policies

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthier Middle Schools: Everyone Can Help
Tools designed to help engage teachers, principals, parents, food service managers and students in school wellness efforts.

WellSAT: Wellness School Assessment Tool
Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity provides a method for assessing the comprehensiveness and strength of school wellness policies

Wellness Policy Tool
Action for Healthy Kids’ tool designed to help local education agencies identify policy options and write their own local wellness policies

Competitive Foods in Schools
CDC guidance and resources about nutrition standards for foods offered in competition with federally reimbursable meals and snacks

Connecticut’s Action Guide for School Nutrition and Physical Activity Policies
Guidance from the Connecticut Department of Education for school districts on developing and implementing local policies

Policy in Action: A Guide to Implementing Your Local School Wellness Policy [pdf 4.9M]
California Project Lean’s roadmap for implementing local wellness policies


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