The South Dakota Board of Education has approved a Model Wellness Policy for South Dakota’s K-12 schools. Federal law requires all agencies that participate in the National School Lunch Program to have a wellness policy in place by the 2006-07 school year.
Development of the Model Wellness Policy was led by the South Dakota Department of Education. A panel of experts representing organizations such as schools, child advocacy groups and the medical community helped to create the policy.
“Obesity is a major issue across the country as well as in South Dakota,” said Dr. Rick Melmer, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Education. “This policy gives schools a starting point and a guide to developing their own individualized policies that address nutrition and physical activity.”
According to the South Dakota Department of Health’s 2003-04 School Height and Weight Report, nearly 32 percent of South Dakota’s school children are overweight or at risk for being overweight.
The new Model Wellness Policy focuses on three major areas: nutrition education, physical activity and nutrition standards. Schools may choose to use the policy as written or revise it as needed to meet local needs and priorities. They also may create their own policy, as long as it follows federal guidelines.
As part of the federal requirement, schools must convene a committee to develop their policy. Committee members must include a food-service representative, administrator, classroom teacher, student, school board member, and community member or parent. The committee also may include a school nurse, dietitian, medical professional and local business representative.
Members of the community interested in becoming involved should contact their local school officials.