Our Wellness Policy

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Wellness Policy

Wellness Policy

Our District has developed a Wellness Policy that is focused on improving the health of students. The policy was developed by the health and wellness advisory council that includes teachers, parents, administrators, and the district nurse.

Sharing the Message of Wellness

One of our goals is to share the message of nutrition and wellness via our department's Web site that emphasizes the importance of nutrition AND fitness. Our site provides information on the nutrition and fitness for teachers, parents, and students, as well as, a variety of learning tools.

Key Areas of our Wellness Policy

Balance is essential for any Wellness Policy. Key areas include:

  • Nutrition Education
  • Physical activity
  • Other school-based activities that are designed to promote student wellness.




Poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles are more prevalent in children today than in the past two decades. The percentage of overweight children aged 6-11 years has more than doubled in the past 20 years, and among adolescents aged 12 - 19, the figure has more than tripled.  Less than 40 percent of children and adolescents in America meet the Dietary Guidelines for saturated fat, and almost 80 percent of young people do not eat the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables. This type of lifestyle has lead to an increased obesity rate throughout the nation.

The burden placed on our society by obesity and related chronic diseases is enormous. Since 1980, obesity rates have doubled in children and tripled in adolescents, and we have already begun to see the impact of the obesity epidemic on other illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.  Factors contributing to this trend include children's decrease in level of activity due in part to increased use of computers, decline in participation in extracurricular activities, and a generally more sedentary lifestyle.  The percentages of high school students who attend physical education classes daily decreased from 42 percent in 1991 to 25 percent in 1995 and remained stable at that level until 2003.

It is critical that children learn and adopt healthy behaviors while they are young, including establishing better eating and exercise habits. Tackling this issue at an early age helps young people develop good habits before they face health concerns.  Poor health habits are more difficult to change at later ages. Schools should ensure that every student from kindergarten through twelfth grade receive regular, age-appropriate quality physical education.

The school setting can play a major role in children's health and nutritional habits through the examples provided by teachers/school personnel as well as the food available in the school cafeteria. An effective nutrition and wellness policy can help students learn the skills they need to make healthy choices.

In recognition of the declining nutritional intake and increasing obesity in children, Congress has passed the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 which states that by the first day of the school year, beginning after June 30 , 2006, each local educational agency participating in the National School Lunch Program shall establish a local school wellness policy that:

  includes goals for nutritional education, physical activity, and a program designed to promote student wellness;

  includes nutritional guidelines for all foods available on each school campus during the school day;

  encourages the increased consumption of a variety of healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products;

  improves student nutritional behaviors on the school campus, including an increase of healthier meal choices by students, as evidenced by greater inclusion of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean dairy and protein in meal and snack selections;

  reinforces the regulations and guidance issued in the School Lunch Act; and

  involves parents, students, representatives of the school food authority, the School Committee, school administrators, teachers, health professionals and the public in the development of the school wellness policy.

Mission Statement

The Westwood Public School Department promotes healthy schools by supporting wellness, good nutrition, and regular physical activity as part of the total learning environment. The Westwood School Department supports a healthy environment where children learn and participate in positive dietary and lifestyle practices. Schools contribute to the basic health status of children by facilitating learning through the support and promotion of good nutrition and physical activity. Improved health optimizes student performance potential and ensures that no child is left behind.

Thus, the Westwood Public School Department is committed to providing school environments that promote and protect children's health, well-being, and ability to learn by supporting healthy eating and physical activity. Therefore, it is the policy of the Westwood School Department that:

  we will engage students, parents, teachers, food service professionals, health professionals, and other interested community members in developing, implementing, monitoring, and reviewing district-wide nutrition and physical activity policies;

  all students in grades K-12 should have opportunities, support, and encouragement to be physically active on a regular basis;

  during the school day foods and beverages sold or served at school by the school food authority will meet the nutritional recommendations of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans;

  we will provide students with access to a variety of affordable, nutritious, and appealing foods that meet the health and nutritional needs of students;

  we will provide clean, safe, and pleasant settings and adequate time for students to eat; and

  we will provide nutrition education and physical education to foster lifelong habits of healthy eating and physical activity.


I.  Wellness Committee

The School Department will create, strengthen, or work with the existing Wellness Committee to develop, implement, monitor, review, and, as necessary, revise school nutrition and physical activity policies. The committee also will serve as a resource to school sites for implementing these policies. The Wellness Committee shall consist of a group of individuals representing the school and community, including parents, students, representatives of the school food authority, members of the school committee, school administrators, teachers, health professionals, and members of the public.

II.  Nutritional Quality of Foods and Beverages Served and Sold on Campus

A.  School Meals

1.  National School Lunch Program

Meals served through the National School Lunch Program will:

  be appealing and attractive to children;

  be served in clean and pleasant settings;

  meet, at a minimum, nutritional requirements established by local, state, and federal statutes and regulations;

  offer a variety of fruits and vegetables;

  serve low-fat and fat-free milks except in circumstances where special dietary needs may require whole milk; and

  ensure that when bread is served a choice of whole grain variety is offered.

Schools should engage students and parents, through taste tests of new entrees and surveys, in selecting foods sold through the school meal program in order to identify new, healthful, and appealing food choices. In addition, schools should share information about the nutritional content of meals with parents and students. Such information could be made available on menus, a website, on cafeteria menu boards, placards, or other point-of-purchase materials.

2.   Meal Times and Scheduling


  will provide students time to purchase and eat meals;

  should not schedule tutoring, club, or organizational meetings or activities during mealtimes, unless students may eat during such activities;

  will provide students access to hand washing or hand sanitizing before they eat meals or snacks; and

  should take reasonable steps to accommodate the tooth brushing regimens of students with special oral health needs (e.g., orthodontia or high tooth decay risk).

3.  Food Service Staff Certification and Allergy Training

Food service staff must be certified in food service sanitation and undergo food allergy training.

4.  Nutritional Assessment

A periodic nutritional assessment by a registered dietitian will be completed to ensure that meals served in school meet all applicable state and federal guidelines and to ensure the nutritional integrity of the menu.

5.  Sharing of Foods and Beverages

Schools should discourage students from sharing their foods or beverages with one another during meal or snack times, given concerns about allergies, restrictions on some children's diets, and communicable diseases.

B. Foods and Beverages Served or Sold Individually Outside of Reimbursable School Meals

1.  A La Carte/Snacks

All foods and beverages served or sold individually on the school campus during the school day must conform to the "Massachusetts A la Carte Food and Beverage Standards to Promote a Healthier School Environment" by Action for Healthy Kids. Food and beverages may not be sold during the lunch period except those from the school food service department. The School Department will disseminate a list of healthful snack items to teachers, after-school program personnel, and parents.

2.  Fundraising Activities

To support children's health and school nutrition-education efforts, school fundraising activities will encourage the use of nutritious foods in fundraising as a substitute for foods of minimal nutritional value.  Schools will encourage fundraising activities that promote physical activity. The school district will make available a list of ideas for possible fundraising activities (See recommendations).

3. Faculty Vending

Foods and beverages offered or sold in faculty vending machines will be exempt from the nutritional standards for foods and beverages served or sold individually (See above). All faculty vending machines must be placed such that students will not have access to them.

4.  Rewards

Schools will not use foods or beverages as rewards for academic performance or good behavior and will not withhold food or beverages (including food served through school meals) as a punishment. Students whose Individualized Education Program (IEP) plan indicates the use of foods or beverages for behavior modification (or other suitable need) will be exempt from this policy.

5.  Birthday Celebrations

Birthday celebrations during the school day should include non-food related items only. The School Department will disseminate a list of non-food related party ideas to parents and teachers (see recommendations).

6. School-sponsored and Curriculum Related Events

Foods and beverages served or sold at school-sponsored or curriculum related events will be exempt from meeting the nutritional standards for meals or for foods and beverages served and sold individually (See above).

III.   Nutrition and Physical Activity Promotion and Food Marketing

A.  Nutrition Education and Promotion

Westwood Public School Department aims to teach, encourage, and support healthy eating by students. Schools should provide nutritional education and engage in nutrition promotion that:

  is offered as part of a sequential, comprehensive, standards-based program designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to promote and protect their health (See recommendations);

  is part of not only health education classes, but also classroom instruction in subjects such as math, science, language arts, social sciences, and elective subjects;

  may provide enjoyable, developmentally-appropriate, culturally-relevant, participatory activities, such as contests, promotions, taste testing, farm visits, and school gardens;

  promotes fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, healthy food preparation methods, and health-enhancing nutrition practices; and

  emphasizes caloric balance between food intake and energy expenditure (physical activity/exercise).

B. Integrating Physical Activity into the Classroom Setting

For students to receive the nationally-recommended amount of daily physical activity {i.e., at least 60 minutes per day) and for students to fully embrace regular physical activity as a personal behavior, students need opportunities for physical activity beyond physical education class. Toward that end:

  classroom health education will complement physical education by reinforcing the knowledge and self-management skills needed to maintain a physically-active lifestyle and to reduce time spent on sedentary activities, such as watching television;

  opportunities for physical activity will be encouraged to be incorporated into other subject lessons; and

  classroom teachers will provide short physical activity breaks between lessons or classes, as appropriate.

C.  Communication with Parents

The School Department will support parents' efforts to provide a healthy diet and daily physical activity for their children. The district will send home nutrition information and post nutrition tips on school websites. Schools should encourage parents to pack healthy lunches and snacks and to refrain from including beverages and foods that do not meet the above nutrition standards for individual foods and beverages. The district/school will provide parents a list of foods that meet the district's snack standards and ideas for healthy celebrations/parties, rewards, and fundraising activities (See recommendations). In addition, the School Department will provide opportunities for parents to share their healthy food practices with others in the school community.

The School Department will provide information about physical education and other school-based physical activity opportunities before, during, and after the school day; and support parents' efforts to provide their children with opportunities to be physically active outside of school. Such supports will include sharing information about physical activity and physical education through a website, newsletter, or other take-home materials, special events, or physical education homework.

D.  Food Marketing in Schools

School-based marketing will be consistent with nutrition education and health promotion. As such, schools should limit food and beverage marketing to the promotion of foods and beverages that meet the nutritional standards for meals or for foods and beverages served or sold individually (See above). School-based marketing of brands promoting predominantly low-nutrition foods and beverages is discouraged. The promotion of healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, is encouraged.

E.  Staff Wellness

Westood Public School Department highly values the health and well-being of every staff member and supports personal efforts by staff to maintain a healthy lifestyle (See recommendations).

IV.  Physical Activity Opportunities and Physical Education

A.  Physical Education (P.E.) K-12

All students in grades K-12, including students with disabilities, special health-care needs, and in alternative educational settings, should receive physical education for the entire school year. All physical education will be taught by a certified physical education teacher. Student involvement in other activities involving physical activity (e.g., interscholastic or intramural sports) will not be substituted for meeting the physical education requirements. Students will spend at least 50 percent of physical education class time participating in moderate to vigorous physical activity.

B.  Daily Recess

All elementary school students will have at least 20 minutes a day of supervised recess, preferably outdoors.  Students should be encouraged to participate in moderate to vigorous physical activity during the recess time.

C.  Prolonged Periods of Inactivity

Schools should discourage extended periods {i.e., periods of two or more hours) of inactivity. When activities, such as mandatory school-wide testing, make it necessary for students to remain indoors for long periods of time, schools should give students periodic breaks during which they are encouraged to stand and be moderately active.

D.  Physical Activity and Punishment

Teachers and other school and community personnel will not use physical activity {e.g., running laps, pushups) or withhold opportunities for physical education as punishment.

Denial of an entire recess as punishment should only occur under extreme circumstances (i.e. when school core values are violated).

E.  Physical Activity Opportunities Before and/or After School

All elementary, middle, and high schools should offer extracurricular physical activity programs, such as physical activity clubs or intramural programs. The high school and middle school should offer interscholastic and/or intramural sports programs. Schools will offer a range of activities that meet the needs, interests, and abilities of all students, including boys, girls, students with disabilities, and students with special health-care needs. The extended day program will provide and encourage - verbally and through the provision of space, equipment, and activities - daily periods of moderate to vigorous physical activity for all participants.

F.  Safe Routes to School

The school district will promote students walking and biking to school when appropriate and safe.

G. Use of School Facilities Outside of School Hours

School spaces and facilities will be available to students, staff, and community members outside of school hours for wellness activities in accordance with existing Building-Use Policy. These spaces and facilities also should be available to community agencies and organizations offering physical activity and nutrition programs. School policies concerning safety will apply at all times.

V.  Monitoring and Policy Review

A.  Monitoring

The Superintendent or designee will ensure compliance with established district-wide nutrition and physical activity wellness policies. In each school, the principal or designee will ensure compliance with those policies in his/her school and will report on the school's compliance to the school district Superintendent or designee.

The Wellness Committee shall meet at least two times per year to ensure and/or improve district-wide compliance with policies.

School food service staff, at the school or district level, will ensure compliance with nutrition policies within school food service areas and will report on this matter to the superintendent. In addition, the school district will report on the most recent USDA School Meals Initiative (SMI) review findings and any resulting changes. If the district has not received a SMI review from the state agency within the past five years, the School Department will request from the state agency that a SMI review be scheduled as soon as possible.

The Superintendent or designee will develop a summary report every three years on district-wide compliance with the School Department's established nutrition and physical activity wellness policies, based on input from schools within the School Department. That report will be provided to the School Committee and also distributed to the Wellness Committee, PTO's, school principals, and school health services personnel in the district.

B.  Policy Review

Assessments will be repeated every three years to help review policy compliance, assess progress, and determine areas in need of improvement. As part of that review, the School Department will review our nutrition and physical activity policies; provision of an environment that supports healthy eating and physical activity; and nutrition and physical education policies and program elements. The district will, as necessary, revise the wellness policies and develop work plans to facilitate their implementation (See recommendations).

VI. Recommendations

1.  Comply with the Massachusetts state law requiring physical education by:

  expanding current physical education program to K-12; and

  increasing physical education time towards achieving the nationally recommended amount of daily physical activity (i.e., 60 minutes per day).

2.  Explore opportunities to increase time for health education to comply with state frameworks.

3.  Explore other financial opportunities to support health education.

4.  Develop a district assessment to be used as a tool to measure Wellness Policy  compliance.

5.  Work towards the implementation of Nutrient Standard Menu Planning for the School Lunch Program.

6.  Develop a policy to use recess for physical activities only and to explore alternative times whether before, during or after the school day to address issues that are typically done during recess at the elementary schools.

7.  Explore the possibility of offering teachers and staff free or reduced membership rates for the Westwood Public School's fitness and pool centers.

8.  Develop list for nonfood items for fundraising, birthday celebrations etc.