Table Of Contents
In April, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health convened an Action Learning Collaborative (ALC) to advise schools, school districts and communities on how to effectively develop, implement and evaluate school and district policies and programs that address childhood obesity in low-income minority schools. At its inaugural meeting, the ALC developed a set of recommendations to the USDA to strengthen the HealthierUS School Challenge. We are pleased to submit these recommendations for your consideration and would welcome the opportunity to discuss these with you in more detail.
Suggested changes to the standards for recognition
- Require schools to meet a certain level of breakfast participation in order to qualify for recognition.
- Require schools to have a farm-to-school program for all or some levels of recognition.
- Require a student group to be a signatory on the application
- Require schools to have a policy restricting the use of unhealthy food for classroom celebrations.
- Require schools to have a policy restricting the sale or offering of unhealthy food in school related activities even if those activities are taking place outside of the school day. This is intended to include snacks offered at official school events, sales at concession stands and school sponsored fundraising.
Suggested changes that support outreach and education
- Update HealthierUS School Challenge documents so they are more accessible to everyone (less jargon and acronyms not known outside the agency).
- Provide easy to find examples of nutrition education and physical activity programs online.
- Provide a link to the Healthy School Award winners.
- Provide lessons learned and suggestions of ways to overcome the most common obstacles to the implementation of the Challenge, for instance, physical activity and nutrition education.
- In outreach to state agencies, include a recommendation that states reach out to schools with existing coordinated school health teams; partner with the CDC to make this information readily available to state agencies.
- Devise ways to involve local nutrition services in the program from the beginning, since the information is transferred more easily at that level and there will be district-wide push.
- Improve ways of disseminating/sharing information, taking into account the digital divide.
Other general recommendations
- Whereas the development of a wellness policy is a requirement of the USDA, that policy needs to address all the components of the criteria for the USDA HealthierUS Challenge.
- Wellness policy rating tool. WellSAT.
- Posted publicly.
- Family friendly wellness policies for schools/districts.
- Integrated into the school improvement plans.
- Model wellness policy language.
- Clear enforcement mechanisms; that is wellness policies that have teeth, with real impact and measurable steps.
- Easy to understand/implement rules for growing food/buying from local farmers and serving it in the cafeteria.