Policy Area 4: Other School-based Wellness Activities
Access to child nutrition
As indicated by the Massachusetts School Nutrition Task Force expectation that school districts “ensure children they have access to adequate and healthy food while in school” and the recommendation of the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity that “qualified child nutrition professionals will provide students with access to a variety of affordable, nutritious, and appealing foods that meet the health and nutrition needs of students”. Access to school nutrition programs should be a high priority for the district. Access will include efforts to inform families about eligibility for free and reduced fee lunch programs and assist families in the application for such programs in a non-discriminatory manner. In addition, the provision of free and reduced fee lunch programs will occur in a non-stigmatized environment (e.g. not identified as such when getting the meal). (See policy on Free/Reduced Lunch Program). Within schools there will be assistance provided to students with disabilities or medical needs who require assistance accessing food (e.g. opening containers, cutting food, making choices, eating). In all cases, hungry students should always have an option for a nutritious meal. The administration and the District-Wide School Health Council should continue to monitor the need to offer breakfast within the schools.
Timing and scheduling school meals
School schedules should be designed so that students have adequate time to enjoy lunch in a non-rushed atmosphere at an appropriate time near the middle of the school day. Ordinarily, other required activities for a student (e.g. tutoring session) will not be scheduled to occur simultaneous with the student's lunch period.
Surroundings for eating
Meals served at school will occur in an environment that is clean with appropriate lighting. Both hand-washing facilities and water fountains should be nearby and easily accessible. The routines and coordination of serving will be designed to avoid delays and long lines. Coordination will include arrangements for adequate setting areas with tables and chairs/benched that are an appropriate size for the students. There will be plan at each school that is responsive to the needs of students with food allergies. The plan should include proper cleaning provisions and effort to educate staff and peers about these needs.
Marketing of food and beverages
School-based marketing will be consistent with nutrition education, nutrition standards and health promotion.
Sustainable food practices
To the extent reasonable, the school lunch program should obtain and serve locally grown and seasonal fruits and vegetables throughout the school year. In addition, the district encourages the use of environmentally safe products and utensils.
Access to facilities for physical activity after school hours
The district will have easy to use procedures for accessing school physical activity facilities during after school hours for youth athletic programs, student and family physical activities, walking clubs, and other recreation activities.
After school programs
School staff members should encourage and support the participation of all eligible students in school-sponsored extracurricular physical activities such as interscholastic sports program. When such after school programs are established, staff will communicate and coordinate information regarding health and safety needs of participants and they will operate programs according to applicable procedures and rules (e.g. MIAA requirements). Staff members who oversee after school programs will have appropriate certifications (e.g. CPR or Firs Aid), model sportsmanlike attitudes and behaviors. Student athletes will be taught good sportsmanship, such as treating opponents with fairness, courtesy and respect, and are held accountable for their actions. The district will also collaborate as appropriate with such organizations as LEAP, Hanscom Club House and Youth Center, Lincoln Recreation and other sponsors of youth programs to coordinate among staffs and assist with student transitions from school to these programs.
Coordinated school health approach
The district approach expects this Wellness policy to be part of a coordinated school health approach that encompasses all aspects of health education, physical education, health services, food services, and student and staff wellness.
District Health Advisory Council
This wellness policy requires the formation of District Health Advisory Council to facilitate understanding and cooperation among those interested in developing, monitoring and improving the local school health program. Members should include representatives from administration, school nurses, Health and Physical Education teachers, students, parents, food services program representatives, and community members with an interest in health issues, and, as needed. Other town officials who focus on youth concerns (e.g. youth officer, recreation officials).
Staff and faculty behaviors can influence student's perception of wellness. The district encourages the dissemination of information to staff that promotes physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices. These efforts contribute to their improved health status, reduced stress, improved morale, and a greater personal commitment to the school's overall health program, which in turn make it more possible for staff to be positive role models for students.
Like other school endeavors, efforts to promote student wellness are much more effective when schools actively solicit family involvement and engage community resources and services. The district encourages school to enhance school experiences with other events such as nutrition education programs for parents and physical activity programs that involve families.
Key issues to be monitored for Policy Area 4