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July 25, 2016


USDA Releases Final Rules to Make School Environments Healthier
In an effort to promote student health and reduce childhood obesity, school districts participating in federal nutrition programs such as the National School Lunch or Breakfast Programs are required to have a Local School Wellness Policy that addresses goals for nutrition promotion and education, physical activity, and other school-based activities that promote student wellness and rely on evidence-based strategies and techniques. The newly issued Local School Wellness Policy final rule empowers communities to take a more active role in the health of their children and provides clarification to the expanded provisions to marketing, stakeholder engagement, nutrition guidelines, public notification, triennial assessments, and timeline for implementation.
  • Marketing: The new rule will disallow the marketing of unhealthy foods in schools and applies whether foods are sold à la carte in the cafeteria, through school stores, vending machines, or many on-campus fundraisers. A district that chooses to allow marketing of food and beverages to students is required to include in their local school wellness plans policies that limit marketing to only those foods and beverages that may be sold on the school campus during the school day that meet the competitive foods standards.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: The final rule requires school districts to allow certain stakeholders (i.e., parents, students, school food staff, physical education teachers, school health professionals, the school board, school administrators, and members of the general public) to participate in the development, implementation, and periodic review and update of the local school wellness policy.  They are also encouraged to include Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-ED) coordinators or educators on the local school wellness policy committee, as appropriate.  Additionally, the rule requires that the school district include in the written local school wellness policy a plan for involving the required stakeholders. 
  • Nutrition Guidelines: The final rule clarifies that, in addition to including nutrition guidelines for all foods offered to students for sale that are consistent with the meal pattern requirements and nutrition standards for competitive foods, the local school wellness policy also must include standards for other foods and beverages made available on the school campus during the school day, even if they are not being sold. It should be noted that with regard to foods provided, but not sold in schools, local jurisdictions have the discretion to adopt standards that conform to Federal school meal and competitive food standards or to adopt more or less stringent standards.
  • Public Notification: The final rule codifies the requirement for districts to inform the public about the content of the local school wellness policy and make the local school wellness policy and any updates to the policy available to the public on an annual basis. It also allows districts the flexibility to determine the most effective method of providing this notification within their communities (e.g., posting the policy on the district website, at each school facility, and/or presentations to various school stakeholders).
  • Triennial Assessments: The final rule codifies the triennial assessment requirement and removes the proposed requirements related to the annual progress reports.
  • Timeline for Implementation: Districts must fully comply with the requirements of the final rule by June 30, 2017.
  • Community Eligibility Provision (CEP): To summarize, in an effort to reduce the administrative burden, this final rule establishes requirements for State agencies, local educational agencies, and schools operating CEP, a reimbursement option that allows the service of school meals (i.e., National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs) to all children at no-cost in high poverty schools without collecting household applications and streamlining meal counting and claiming procedures.
To read the press release, click: http://www.fns.usda.gov/pressrelease/2016/017216
To review the final rules, visit:


Click here for the 2016 Training and Technical Assistance Catalog

About California Project LEAN
California Project LEAN, a program of the Public Health Institute, works to advance nutrition and physical activity policy in schools and communities in order to prevent obesity and its associated chronic diseases. California Project LEAN efforts center on youth, parent and resident empowerment approaches, Policy and Environmental change Strategies (PSE), and community-based solutions that improve nutrition and physical activity environments. For more information, go to www.CaliforniaProjectLEAN.org.
About the Public Health Institute
The Public Health Institute, an independent nonprofit organization, is dedicated to promoting health, well-being and quality of life for people throughout California, across the nation and around the world. For more information, go to www.phi.org.