Wellness policies have five requirements; for each of these areas you can use any of the statements below individually or as whole sections, depending on your district’s goals.
Nutrition Education: Farm to school programs can provide interactive, experiential education activities that can strengthen and reinforce nutrition education efforts.
Staff shall integrate experiential education activities - such as gardening, cooking demonstrations, farm and farmers market tours - into existing curricula at all grade levels.
Nutrition education messages from the classroom will be modeled in the cafeteria and across campus by offering locally-grown food whenever possible within the school meals programs as well as in à la carte sales, including vending machines.
Each school shall establish a school garden of a sufficient size to provide students with experiences in planting, harvesting, preparing, serving and tasting foods, to be integrated with nutrition education and core curriculum, and articulated with state standards.
School food service, in partnership with other school departments and community organizations, will work to creatively market and promote locally-produced food to students, through activities such as:
- Featuring food grown in the school garden, in the cafeteria, through sampling and inclusion in school meals based upon availability and acceptability.
- Developing cafeteria themes relating to local farmers and products grown in the region.
- Hosting farmers in the cafeteria and classroom.
- Developing creative campus fundraisers based on healthy food items, integrating farm grown produce where appropriate.
Physical Activity: The district recognizes that school gardens and farm visits can offer physical activity opportunities, as well as agricultural education, by engaging students in activities such as planting, harvesting and weeding. Teachers and students are encouraged to take advantage of these physical activity opportunities during the school day as well as through field trips and after-school activities.
Other School-Based Learning Activities:
Food service and teaching staff shall work cooperatively to integrate experiences in cafeterias, instructional gardens, kitchen classrooms and farm field trips with the formal learning experience of all students.
School food service will work with school departments, community partners and the student health council to facilitate student understanding of fresh, local, sustainably grown food.
Farm to School programs can be integrated to enhance broader nutrition guidelines that increase children’s consumption of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and other healthy foods. Language encouraging local sourcing can be integrated in numerous ways.
The Child Nutrition Services Director shall develop and implement a plan to integrate organic foods, or foods produced with minimal pesticide use, into the meals served to students.
Meals served within the federally reimbursable meal program must be designed to feature fresh and minimally processed fruits and vegetables, from local sources, to the greatest extent possible.
Schools are encouraged to offer fresh, seasonal, locally grown food at every location on the school site where food is sold and at all school-sponsored events and activities.
In addition to district and community representatives, members of the farming community - farmers, representatives from farm organizations, master gardeners, agricultural industry representatives - should be included in developing school wellness policies. They can help you integrate seasonal and regional products into your menu, understand what may be best to grow in a school garden and learn how to work with farmers in a mutually beneficial way.
- A team of district and community representatives will be established to support the food service director and teachers in implementing local purchasing and other Farm to School activities on an ongoing basis.
- The wellness policy committee must include parents, students, representatives of the school authority, the school board, school administrators and the public in development, implementation and periodic review of the local wellness policy. Representatives from the local agricultural community and food and nutrition professionals could be key members of the committee. These committee members could be farmers, local public health professionals, chefs, nutritionists, health educators or representatives from farm organizations, farmers markets, agricultural industry or community organizations that work to promote local foods.
Including locally sourced farm products within the school lunch program and offering interactive nutrition education in the classroom and cafeteria helps to meet both nutritional and financial goals of school meal programs. Offering students local produce has been shown to increase participation in the school lunch program, which also generates increased revenue for the school food service. Evaluation of the effectiveness of school wellness policies should be designed to capture and reflect these factors.
An annual review will be conducted to measure the impact and implementation of the wellness policy. The report will include:A review of school-food sales that determines
- The percentage of food purchased from local sources
- The budgetary impact of increasing local purchases
- Existing opportunities to increase purchasing of local and seasonal items
- The impact of local purchasing on participation in the school meal programs
An evaluation of the frequency and effectiveness of nutrition education activities involving the school garden, farm visits and other agriculture-based activities