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OSN Wellness and Local School Wellness Policies

Wellness and Local School Wellness Policies

The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 required all districts to establish local wellness policies by School Year 2006-2007. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 expands the scope of wellness policies; brings in additional stakeholders in its development, implementation and review; and requires public updates on the content and implementation of the wellness policies (Section 204). The intent is to strengthen local school wellness policies so they become useful tools in evaluating, establishing and maintaining healthy school environments, and to provide transparency to the public on key areas that affect the nutrition environment in each school.

USDA Regulations and Guidance

Steps to Wellness Policy Success

1.  Form a School Wellness Team

  • “Healthier Middle Schools: Everyone Can Help” is not just for Middle Schools! It’s a series of communication tools designed to help you engage teachers, principals, parents, food service managers and students in school wellness efforts. Check it out!

2.  Write Your LWP

3.  Implement your LWP

Other Opportunities to Build Healthy School Environments

Adequate Time to Eat

  • Colorado State Guidance
    • “On or before July 1, 2006, each school district board of education is encouraged to adopt policies ensuring that: (I) Healthful meals in the school cafeteria made available to students with an adequate time to eat".  Colorado State Statute 22-32-136 (2005)
  • USDA’s 2004 guidance on Eating in the context of Wellness Policies (this link is currently down for updating by USDA and will be linked when the USDA page becomes available)
    • “The school district will ensure an adequate time for students to enjoy eating healthy foods with friends in schools.”
    • “The school district will schedule lunch time as near the middle of the school day as possible.”
    • “The school district will schedule recess for elementary schools before lunch so that children will come to lunch less distracted and ready to eat."
  • Wellness Policies
    • CASB’s Wellness Policy Template contains the following language, “The goal of supporting and promoting proper dietary habits shall be accomplished by: A requirement that all students have access to healthful food choices in appropriate portion sizes throughout the school day, including healthful meals in the school cafeteria with an adequate time to eat; healthful items in vending machines, and healthful items for fundraisers, classroom parties, and rewards in the schools.”

  • Scientific studies
    • Journal of Child Nutrition: "How Long Does it Take Students to Eat Lunch?: A Summary of Three Studies"
      • "School children took an average of 7 to 10 minutes to consume their lunch. Some students, however, required less time, while others needed...longer than 10 minutes to consume their lunch. In school districts where the scheduled lunch period is a contested issue, the only way school foodservice directors could know precisely whether this average reflects students in their program is to conduct a time study using similar methods...
      • If 20 minutes at the table were the goal, then school foodservice directors would need to factor in the following:
        • average travel time to the cafeteria
        • time for service, including travel to the eating area; and
        • bussing of trays after the meal to yield an ideal lunch period...
      • If 20 minutes at the table represents 78% of the meal period (Figure 2), a goal for the entire time students spend in the cafeteria would be at least 26 minutes. This would allow four minutes for travel to and from the cafeteria in a 30-minute lunch period. Although this calculation is based strictly on averages, a school foodservice director could use this type of logic in documenting an ideal lunch period with school administrators."
    • “Eating at School: A Summary of NFSMI Research on Time Required by Students to Eat Lunch, National Food Service Management Institute (NFSMI)”





If you have any questions, please contact:

Heather Hauswirth, Senior Consultant
Colorado Department of Education
Office of School Nutrition
1580 Logan St. #760
Denver, CO 80203
Ph-303-866-6871 | Fax-303-866-6133


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