provided here may still be used
by local educational agencies in
building on their existing local
1. What is the Local Wellness Policy?
The Local Wellness Policy requirement is established by Section 204 of the Public Law 108-265, the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004. It requires each local education agency (LEA) or school district participating in the National School Lunch Program and/or School Breakfast Program to develop a local wellness policy that promotes the health of students and addresses the growing problem of childhood obesity.
2. Why does a school district need a Local Wellness Policy?
The Local Wellness Policy is important because it:
- Reaches beyond USDA-funded meal programs to influence children's health
- Acknowledges local community responsibility to support or build on government efforts
- Provides an opportunity for school districts to create an environment conducive to healthy lifestyle choices
- Recognizes the critical role of schools in curbing the epidemic of childhood overweight and obesity.
3. What does the policy require from school districts?
A local wellness policy for schools shall, at a minimum:
- Include goals for nutrition education, physical activity and other school- based activities
that are designed to promote student wellness in a manner that the local educational
agency determines is appropriate;
- Include nutrition guidelines selected by the local educational agency for all foods
available on each school campus under the local educational agency during the school
day with the objectives of promoting student health and reducing childhood obesity;
- Provide an assurance that guidelines for reimbursable school meals shall not be less
restrictive than regulations and guidance issued by the Secretary of Agriculture pursuant
to subsections (a) and (b) of section 10 of the Child Nutrition Act (42 U.S.C. 1779) and
section 9(f)(1) and 17(a) of the Richard B Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C.
1758(f)(1), 1766(a)0, as those regulations and guidance apply to schools;
- Establish a plan for measuring implementation of the local wellness policy, including
designation of 1 or more persons within the local educational agency or at each school, as
appropriate, charged with operational responsibility for ensuring that the school meets the
local wellness policy; and
- Involve parents, students, and representatives of the school food authority, the school
board, school administrators, and the public in the development of the school wellness
4. Who needs to be involved?
A team of community members should be involved in the development of each local wellness policy. Parents, students, and representatives of the school food authority, the school board, school administrators, and the public should be a part of the process. For more information, visit the
Identifying a Policy Development Team.
5. What are the deadlines?
Districts must establish local wellness policies by the beginning of School Year 2006-2007, but local wellness policies are an ongoing project. They should be continuously implemented, evaluated, and updated.
6. Where can I get more information and technical support?
USDA has developed wellness web-resources, as a part of the Team Nutrition website. The Local Wellness Policy web-pages are a clearinghouse for information, with web pages on policy requirements, sample policy language, examples of existing State and district policies in various wellness topics, the local process (i.e. how to create and implement a local wellness policy), reference materials, and links to more resources.
7. Are Residential Child Care Institutions (RCCIs) expected to have a wellness policy, in compliance with the requirement in Section 204 of the CN and WIC Reauthorization Act?
Yes, they are. FNS is aware that the people involved in developing the wellness policy might be different than those specified in the law and/or used by a school district. For example, in certain RCCIs, it may be impossible to include a parent with the list of people specified in the law for development of a local wellness policy. Because of the responsibility the RCCI has in providing nutrition and physical activity to children in residence, FNS believes it is important for each RCCI to address wellness policies that will affect the health and development of its residents. It is therefore expected that the RCCI will individualize the wellness policy to meet the unique needs of its institution.
8. Are all schools within an LEA that participate in our school meals programs (including the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program and Special Milk Program), bound by the LEA wellness policy, even if a school within the LEA does not participate in any of the programs?
No. Schools within the LEA that do not participate in any of the school meals programs are not legally required to be bound by the LEA's local wellness policies. However, for consistency, FNS feels that most LEAs will require schools to follow the district policy.
9. Does the wellness policy requirement apply to private schools, including religious private schools, and charter schools?
Yes. Any school that participates in a program authorized under the National School Lunch Act or the Child Nutrition Act must develop a local wellness policy as specified in the Section 204 of the Public Law 108-265, the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004.
10. Do private schools develop their own wellness policy or must they follow the local school districtís wellness policy?
Private schools or charter schools may develop their own wellness policy or, as in the case of parochial schools, the governing board could develop one for all their schools. A private school could also adopt the wellness policy of the local educational agency.
11. Are schools, including private schools that participate in only the Special Milk Program required to develop a wellness policy?
Yes. Schools that participate in the SMP must have a wellness policy. Considering the special circumstances for schools that only participated in the Special Milk Program, these schools may want to consider adopting a wellness policy developed by a local educational agency.