Wellness Policy FAQs
In an effort to further support student health and well-being, the School Board recently approved changes to the policy and supporting regulation that address Student Wellness (Policy JHCF and Regulation JCHF-R). The most notable changes are the ones related to nutrition. The majority of changes in that area simply reinforce long-standing cafeteria practices and procedures; however, others are designed to address issues such as food allergies and obesity, and to promote eating habits that contribute to students’ long-term health.
The new standards, which must be followed on school property during the school day, affect in-school parties, fundraisers, school stores and snack bars, student meetings, in-classroom incentives and culinary education programs. Should there ever be a time when you are providing snacks and/or beverages for students, it is important that you are aware of what is permissible. Please see the list of Frequently Asked Questions below for important information.
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.
Are there deadlines related to the policy?
The mandate required the policy to be in place at the start of the 2018-19 school year. Assessment of policy implementation and compliance is made on a triennial basis.
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 was submitted to the School Board for approval.
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.
Why were changes were made to the Student Wellness policy and how will they impact families?
According to the USDA, the nation faces an obesity epidemic with nearly 1 in 3 children at risk for preventable diseases like heart disease and diabetes due to being overweight. Furthermore, health experts say that if the problem is left unchecked, the current generation of children may have a shorter lifespan than their parents. Since many children eat half their meals at school, it is important for WJCC Schools to have policies that promote student health and wellness.
The Student Wellness policy and regulation cover numerous student health topics ranging from physical education and activity to nutrition. Recently, a Wellness Committee made up of personnel from child nutrition, physical education, the School Health Initiative Program and school leadership teams as well as community representatives such as health professionals and parents reviewed the policy and regulation and offered suggested revisions to the School Board for approval.
The most notable changes are the ones related to nutrition. The majority of changes in that area simply reinforce long-standing cafeteria practices and procedures; however, others are designed to address issues such as food allergies and obesity, and to promote eating habits that contribute to students’ long-term health. Specifically, the policy and regulation were revised to meet or exceed federal Smart Snacks in Schools nutrition standards.
Do the amended policy and regulation mean my children cannot bring a food and beverages to school in their lunches that aren’t in compliance with federal and state nutrition standards?
No. The changes do not affect what students can bring to school in their own individually packed lunches.
Can you give some examples of the kind of activities and foods that must now meet the stipulated federal and state standards?
As in the past, all a la carte and vending machine offerings must meet federal Smart Snacks in Schools nutrition standards. Additionally, the School Board amended the policy to require that all food available to or provided to students, including the following, must also meet these standards:
- All food sold outside of the school meal programs (designated as 12 a.m. – 30 minutes after dismissal);
- Vending Machine food;
- A la carte offerings;
- Food sold through fundraisers;
- Items from student stores and snack bars;
- Food at parties/celebrations throughout the school, including classrooms and the cafeteria;
- Classroom snacks and achievement awards;
- Food at student meetings; and
- Culinary education program where food prepared as part of the curriculum is sold to students.
Does this mean I can no longer bring cupcakes, cake, potato/corn chips or M&M’s to my child’s classroom to share with classmates?
Items that do not meet Smart Snacks in Schoolsnutrition standards will not be permissible. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation has developed a Smart Snack in Schools product calculator that can be used to check recipes and food items. A healthier version of those options or alternative would be required. Here’s a link to a list that might be helpful: https://foodandhealth.com/usda-school-snack-guide. Also, the WJCC Child Nutrition Services webpage includes a list of Smart Snack compliant items that are available for purchase for school parties and celebrations. Parents may also wish to consider alternatives to food when celebrating a child’s birthday or accomplishment. For example, families may wish to donate a book to the class or provide classroom/craft supplies instead.
Schools have a lot of events; how do we know when the new nutrition standards are in effect and when they are not?
All state and federal nutrition standards, including Smart Snacks in Schoolare in effect during the school day. The school day is defined as the period from midnight before to 30 minutes after the end of the official school day. Nutrition standards do not apply during non-school hours, off campus-events, or for on-campus concessions that are operating after the school day.
What about concessions at events, like football games? Will booster clubs, for example, have to follow the guidelines?
No, the Smart Snacks in Schools nutrition standards would not be in effect when athletic events and competitions happen during non-school hours.
Do the nutrition standards apply to food or snacks sold as part of a fund-raising activity? Will my child still be able to sell candy bars for his band?
First and foremost, the Student Wellness regulation encourages fundraising activities that are non-food in nature or that sell food and beverages that meet the nutrition standards. Candy bars could be sold as long as all sales took place after the school day or off campus. However, candy bars and other non-compliant food items could not be sold on school property during school hours, even in the instances of fundraisers.
Who can I contact if I have further questions about the policy and regulation?
If your question is about a specific food and/or beverage and whether or not these can be served at a school event, you may want to contact your school’s principal. However, you can also address questions to Amy Lazev, SHIP Supervisor, at 603-6421 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Jane Haley, Child Nutrition Services Supervisor, at 565-3838 or email@example.com, or Janice Fowler, Health Services Supervisor, at 603-6497 or firstname.lastname@example.org.