FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the school Wellness Policy?
School wellness policies are required for all schools participating in USDA’s Child Nutrition Programs – school breakfast, school lunch. Any school with one of these programs must have a school wellness policy by the beginning of the 2006 year. The Federal law, enacted in 2004, outlines key requirements, including nutrition guidelines for all foods served on campus, nutrition education and physical activity goals.
Why do we need a Wellness policy?
A school’s ultimate responsibility is helping each child learn. To do this, the health and development of the whole child needs to be addressed. One of the major health concerns in the U.S. today is the increase in childhood obesity. Studies indicate that 1/3 of New Hampshire’s children are overweight or obese. There are many causes for these problems, including decreased physical activity, large portion sizes and easy access to foods that provide many calories but few nutrients.
Although American kids may be overweight and overfed generally, they are also frequently undernourished. School wellness policies focus on improving health and preventing childhood obesity by creating a school environment where healthful food choices predominate and physical activity is part of every day. There is a strong connection between health and academic performance, too. By doing the same things that optimize students’ health, we can optimize students’ performance in the classroom and in physical activities.
Because children learn from the adults around them, parents, teachers and staff are all strongly encouraged to model good eating habits for students as well as providing nutritious food for school parties and events and refraining from using candy as rewards or prizes. The average student sees over 10,000 advertisements per year for food, nearly all of it non-nutritious junk food, but research shows that children are more likely to be influenced by messages sent by the significant adults in their lives than by messages sent by the media. Modeling good eating habits for students can really make a difference in the fight against obesity.
What about a classroom birthday party?
We are asking parents to join us in making every effort to follow these new wellness guidelines by encouraging them to send nutritious treats for school parties and to use alternative ways to celebrate a child without the use of food.
Our staff will work to celebrate your child’s big day with some special classroom privileges, and if you want to send in a book for the class or some pencils or new jump rope or ball for outside, even better. This will help us follow our new guidelines in a way that models some wellness options for your children.
Remember, not every family can afford or has the time to send in treats. Here are some other alternatives for birthday celebrations that allow each child to feel special and may keep children from feeling left out:
- Have the class write and present positive stories about the birthday student.
- Have the class prepare a packet of everything they like about the birthday child.
- Have a birthday crown for the birthday child to wear.
- Let the birthday child pick a story for story time or a game for recess.
- Send in a new book to be read to the class that becomes part of the celebration and classroom library.
- Celebrate with an art project.
- Celebrate the birthday with an extra recess/game time.
- Celebrate with a game and let the birthday student be the captain or referee.
Teachers are encouraged to schedule only one monthly party for all students with birthdays in that month, rather than separate parties for each student.
We realize this is a difficult change for parents, but what we’re asking is in response to the federal guidelines and is in the best interests of the students. We appreciate your support with these changes.
Can my child be denied recess or PE?
No. Staff members cannot deny participation in recess or PE as a form of punishment or discipline. However, if a child misbehaves during recess or PE he or she may be asked to sit quietly for a few minutes.
Will PTO’s and other organizations be able to provide luncheons to the staff?
Yes. Again, we would strongly encourage the use of healthy foods as parents and staff set an example for our youth. Please see the “Healthy Snacks List” for ideas.
Will PTO’s, Booster Clubs and other school organizations be able to conduct food related fundraisers?
Yes. Events involving the sale of food including football games, band and chorus performances, roller skating, etc., will be allowed. However, we strongly encourage organizations to offer only healthy choices for their fundraisers. Please see the “Fundraising Ideas” and “Healthy Snacks List” for ideas.
Is family and community involvement important in implementing this policy?
Yes. We have a unique opportunity in this community to create a healthier environment for our children, but we need the support of all involved. In order to promote family and community involvement in the area of wellness, the building principal or designee is responsible for creating a participatory environment where nutrition education information is provided. Parents are encouraged to participate as well by sending in healthier snacks/meals to school and promoting their child’s physical education. Get involved!!
The Wellness Committee is committed to making our District a healthier, more fit learning environment. Having parents and staff members join us in our effort to do so will make it easier for the students.