Broader input mandated for wellness programs

by Josh Sosland
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WASHINGTON — A larger group of stakeholders will have a voice in the creation of local wellness policies put in place in connection with the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said July 7. The change will require “additional stakeholders be included in the development, implementation and review of the wellness policies,” the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S.D.A. said.

Parents, students and others in the community must be informed about the content and implementation of local wellness policies, effective beginning in the coming 2011-12 school.

Local wellness programs have been required as part of the school meal programs since the school year beginning in 2006-07.

“Parents understand that our commitment to teaching children healthy lifestyles requires local communities working together to make wellness a priority,” said Secretary of Agriculture 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.”

The F.N.S. described local wellness policies as 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.”

While the change will be required in a school year beginning in a little more than a month in certain parts of the United States, materials from the F.N.S. elaborating on its wellness policies have not yet been released. The F.N.S. said the materials on its web site would be updated shortly.

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