School Wellness Nationwide – Highlights from the March Multi-State Local Wellness Policy Meeting

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April 22, 2024

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The Multi-State Local Wellness Policy Group met on March 14th, 2024, engaging in insightful discussions surrounding best practices and challenges associated with the Local Wellness Policy. Many leaders in Local Wellness Policy were in attendance from various states across the nation, including Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, and South Carolina.

Group members discussed best practices for making the Local Wellness Policy successful. The members noted that this collaborative team approach has been helpful for sharing ideas and making progress in terms of strengthening practices surrounding the Local Wellness Policy. Additionally, members discussed the pivotal role of integrating dietetic interns into school nutrition settings, recognizing its significant contribution to the success of both school nutrition programs and the Local Wellness Policy. Nurturing an abundance of new professionals within the realm of school nutrition has been crucial, especially amidst a new wave of directors entering the field. Specifically, a Massachusetts initiative provided by The John C. Stalker Institute of Food and Nutrition at Framingham State, Culinary Resources Inspiring School Professionals (CRISP), was discussed as a terrific resource offering culinary support to empower new school nutrition professionals to advance scratch cooking and offer culturally relevant meals to their students. 

Some of the challenges discussed at the meeting involved highlighting the important link between academic achievement and wellness of the whole child, ensuring students are fed nutritious meals that will fuel them throughout the school day.

The group hopes to achieve the following goals within the next few years:

  • Provide students with a basic but structured understanding of nutrition education alongside physical education.
  • Provide support regarding triennial reviews by creating a national triennial review tool. 
  • Pull policy into practice to ensure standards are being met across all districts and states.

Massachusetts addressed a prevalent issue surrounding frequently asked questions about competitive foods and beverages within school fundraisers. In response to this issue, a video was produced last fall, addressing superintendents, educators, and parents which currently serves as a guide for healthier school fundraisers.

The Multi-State Local Wellness Policy Group plans to hold future meetings to discuss the progress of Local Wellness Policy. Currently, there is a strong focus on expanding participation, and the group hopes to enlist additional states to enrich future discourse.

Submitted by: Ilana Patti and Claire Hickling Framingham State University Food and Nutrition Graduate Student in the Coordinated Program in Dietetics