Sunday, February 4, 2018

NYC Department of Education Releases 2017 Wellness Policy

In mid-December, the NYC Department of Education released the revised NYC School Wellness Policy in Principals’ Weekly. This policy guides NYC school districts' efforts to create supportive school nutrition and physical activity environments with the assistance of a local wellness council. School Wellness Policies are a USDA requirement for all school districts participating in the federal breakfast and lunch programs as per the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 [Sec. 204 of Public Law 111-296] and Child Nutrition and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Reauthorization Act [Sec. 204 of Public Law 108-265].

The revised policy provides comprehensive guidelines on physical activity, physical education, health education and services and policy governance all in one document for the first time.  An interesting new requirement is that the New York City Department of Education is now required to share recordkeeping and progress reports on wellness policy compliance with the public. The policy also now includes resources available through the DOE to establish physical activity programs before and after school such as the CHAMPS sports and fitness program. The Active Design Toolkit for Schools  and Active Design Playbook for Early Childcare Settings are also highlighted as resources to create school environments that promote physical activity and healthy food/beverage choices. The updated policy provides information and resources on: State and local physical and health education instruction requirements, recommendations and expectations; and the roles of the citywide District Wellness Advisory Council, School Wellness Councils, and members of the school and local community in supporting healthy schools by implementing the citywide wellness policy.

The easiest way for schools to ensure they are in DOE policy compliance is to include the information for Physical and Health Education in the Student Transition Achievement Success (STARS) report which should include all the wellness programming they are already accomplishing. Schools should also feel welcome to share success stories with the Office of School Wellness and Bronx Health REACH, so other schools can learn about their exemplary work. In addition, schools are encouraged to register their wellness council on the Office of School Wellness portal where there are useful resources for developing and planning a wellness council and policy. (See events below for upcoming trainings for wellness councils.)

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