Wellness Policy FAQs

What is the WJCC School Wellness Policy?

It is a WJCC School Board policy with supporting regulations that is in response to a federal mandate. The mandate applies to all schools that receive federal funds for free and reduced lunches. The policy is a one-page, general statement of commitment. The regulations support the policy and outline in detail how the policy will be met. The regulations provide standards for nutrition and physical education and list nutrition and physical activity topics to be included in the K-12 curriculum.

Are there deadlines related to the policy?

The mandate required the policy to be in place at the start of the 2006-2007 school year. Building principals can determine their own timelines for implementing the regulations. Principals or their designees are required to report annually to the Superintendent about progress made toward meeting the standards that are detailed in the regulations.

Who was involved in the development of the policy?

The policy was written with input from individuals and committees that included WJCC administrators, teachers, parents, students, staff and community members. The policy and regulations were submitted to the school board by the School Health Advisory Committee.

Should principals and others try to meet the regulations as soon as possible?

Yes, but the process should allow adequate time to educate parents, staff and students about the policy and regulations and their purpose and to involve them in decisions about implementation.

How can staff, parents and others learn about the policy and regulations?

This document provides an overview but is no substitute for reading the actual policy and regulations that can be found on the school website at www.wjccschools.org. Click on the School Board link on the left side of the home page. Under School Board, click on Policy Manual, then click on Section J on the top, right side of the page. Go to JHCF for the policy and to JHCF-R for the regulations.

What is the relationship between the WJCC School Wellness Policy and the School Health Initiative Program (SHIP)?

The policy is the result of a federal mandate and would have been developed and implemented even if SHIP had not been initiated. SHIP is a partnership between the WJCC schools and other community organizations that are committed to promoting and supporting healthy eating, physical activity and access to health care for all. SHIP serves as a catalyst and coordinating entity—bringing together people and resources to create a culture of wellness throughout the community. SHIP staff will help inform people about the policy and regulations and will provide resources to help the school division implement them.

What foods and beverages are covered by the policy?

All foods and beverages made available on school grounds, including items provided through vending, lunch a la carte, beverage contracts, fundraisers, student stores, classroom parties and celebrations are covered.

How will the policy and regulations impact fundraising?

Fundraising activities that involve food/beverages must now meet the nutrition standards outlined in the regulations. The division, through SHIP, will provide fundraising groups with ideas for “healthy fundraising”. For example, low-fat cookies can be substituted for high fat cookies. Better yet, instead of selling cookies, the group can organize a dance or car wash that promotes physical activity.

How will the policy impact birthday parties and other classroom celebrations?

School administrators and parent/teacher organizations are expected to promote healthy options for celebrations. SHIP can provide handouts listing healthy options and SHIP staff are available to meet with Hospitality Committees and event planners to discuss options. Cupcakes don’t need to be eliminated—they can meet the standards by being smaller in size with minimal icing and one per person. Celebrations should celebrate the child rather than food. For example, a birthday child can donate a favorite book to the classroom library on a birthday.

How will the policy impact what is sold in vending machines?

Items sold from vending machines on school grounds must meet the nutrition standards listed in the regulations. Child Nutrition Services will ensure that the contents of the machines it operates meet the standards. All other vending machines are the responsibility of the individual schools. The change to healthier options should be a gradual process that involves education of students and staff about the reasons for the changes and involves them in decisions about vending machine contents. Child Nutrition Services and SHIP can advise about healthy vending.

Are administrators and teachers expected to be “food police” and enforcers for the policy?

Administrators and teachers are expected to promote healthy choices and to set expectations. This includes informing and answering questions about the policy. Educating people about the policy will take time. Meanwhile, those who don’t follow the policy (such as parents who show up with treats that don’t meet the standards) should be informed about the policy in a gentle, sensitive manner. Being sensitive to the parents’/students/ feelings may mean serving what is brought while explaining the policy.

Do the nutrition standards prohibit sweets?

Candy, cookies etc. are permitted in vending machines as long as a single serving doesn’t exceed 300 calories or 35% fat. The policy promotes food and beverages that are healthier than candy but still permits candies that meet the standards. The policy is based on the belief that all foods fit in moderation. The goal is to educate people about how to achieve balance—a balanced diet and a balance between calorie intake and energy output.

How will the policy impact what teachers do in the classrooms?

Teachers are expected to provide periodic opportunities throughout the day for students to stretch and be moderately active so that no student is inactive for more than two hours. Ideally, the opportunities will be integrated into teaching of core subjects. In addition, teachers are expected to integrate into the curriculum, as much as possible, information about the importance of healthy eating and physical activity. The following persons can serve as resources to help teachers with policy requirements for the classroom: SHIP staff; Jeannie Trainum, Coordinator for Health and Physical Education Curriculum; and Jane Haley, Supervisor for Child Nutrition Services.

How will the policy impact behavior management techniques used by teachers?

Physical activity can not be used (running laps, push-ups) or withheld (taking away recess) as punishment. Whenever possible, teachers are expected to use physical activity as a reward to reinforce academic achievement. Conversely, foods and beverages should not be used as rewards for academic performance or good behavior. SHIP staff can provide teachers with a list of recommended incentives.

Do the policy and regulations address the use of food as a teaching tool?

Not specifically. However, in keeping with the spirit of the policy and regulations, teachers are encouraged to use nonfood items to teach lessons. For example, instead of using M&M’s to teach grouping and counting, jumbo-size, multi-colored paper clips can be used. SHIP can provide a list of non-food items that can be substituted for frequently used food items.

Do the policy and regulations apply to staff as well as students?

Staff are important role models for students and with a few exceptions, the policies and regulations for staff and students are the same. The exceptions are that staff can have caffeinated beverages and diet sodas and students can not.