New Jersey

Improving School Health through Expanded Professional Development
Over 53,000 students in targeted districts and nearly 1.4 million students statewide are in schools with strengthened wellness policies and practices.


Middle school students getting lunch items in cafeteria line

The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) provides grants to partner organizations to help schools strengthen wellness policies that encompass nutrition, physical education, and physical activity.

NJDOH identified five high-need school districts and the individual schools within these districts on the basis of economic disadvantage and capacity to start school wellness teams.


Each NJDOH grantee uses a clear scope of work aligned with program goals and CDC performance measures and uses the Alliance for a Healthier Generation school health assessment toolExternal. The grantees worked with the five districts to revise school wellness policies so they align with final rules under the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010External. Environmental and policy changes achieved or in progress include:

  • Transportation initiatives, such as “Safe Routes to School.”
  • Physical activity breaks in the classroom.
  • Nutrition standards for competitive foods available during the school day.
  • Smarter lunchroom techniques to promote healthy food and beverage choices.
  • Collaboration between school nutrition services and school wellness teams.
  • Student and family involvement in planning for school meals and other foods and beverages sold, served, and offered on school campus.

The project has potential to reach about 53,000 students in the five high-need school districts and nearly 1.4 million students in grades K–12 statewide.

This program was supported by CDC’s State Public Health Actions to Prevent and Control Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity, and Associated Risk Factors and Promote School Health cooperative agreement (DP13-1305).