USDA Announces Improvements in School Wellness Promotion

Release No.
0296.11

Contact:
USDA Office of Communications (202) 720-4623

<p align="center" class="BodyTextBlack"><i>Changes will Engage Local Communities to Promote Healthier Lifestyles for Children</i></p>

WASHINGTON, July 7, 2011 - USDA announced today improvements included in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that will enhance local wellness policies in schools in order to promote healthier lifestyles for children. Local wellness policies are an important tool for parents, local educational agencies and school districts to promote student wellness, prevent and reduce childhood obesity, and provide assurance that school meal nutrition guidelines meet the minimum federal school meal standards. Schools participating in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program were required to have local wellness policies in place beginning in the 2006-2007 School Year.

"Parents understand that our commitment to teaching children healthy lifestyles requires local communities working together to make wellness a priority." said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The updated local school wellness policies will help bring more people into this process in order to ensure kids are surrounded by a healthy school environment."

Provisions set forth in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 supersede previous requirements and expand the scope of wellness policies. The law now requires that additional stakeholders be included in the development, implementation and review of the wellness policies. Schools are now required to inform and update the public (including parents, students, and others in the community) about the content and implementation of the local wellness policies. These provisions will be effective beginning in the coming 2011-2012 school year.

The Food and Nutrition Service will be updating the local wellness policy materials on the FNS website: http://www.fns.usda.gov/tn/healthy/wellnesspolicy.html. FNS is also working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Education to provide technical assistance on local wellness policies for local educational agencies, school food authorities, and State agencies. By working with agencies and authorities vested in students' health and wellness, we are convinced that we can ensure a healthier school environment for children.

Improving child nutrition is the focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The legislation authorizes USDA's child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Summer Food Service Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. The Act allows USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children, and help a new generation win the future by having healthier lives. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Initiative's goal to end childhood obesity in a generation.

USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Visit www.fns.usda.gov  for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs.