WVBOE Takes a Strong Stance on Student Wellness

Posted: April 14, 2006

The West Virginia Board of Education places the highest priority on the health and wellness of our state's youth. This Position Statement represents the Board's recommended guidance to be used in developing Local Wellness Policies that focus on research-based best practices that can be implemented by county boards of education as they deem appropriate. In the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, the U.S. Congress established a new requirement that all school districts with federally-funded school meals programs develop and implement local wellness policies by the start of the 2006-2007 school year that address nutrition and physical activity. At a minimum, the local wellness policy must include the formation of a local wellness committee comprised of representatives from the school food authority, the local school board, school administrators, parents, students, and the public. Once formed, the committee must develop:

  • Goals for nutrition education, physical activity and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness and address the growing concern of childhood obesity;
  • Nutrition guidelines for all foods available on each school campus during the school day with the objectives of promoting student health and reducing childhood obesity;
  • Guidelines for reimbursable school meals, which are no less restrictive than regulations and guidance issued by the Secretary of Agriculture; and
  • A plan for measuring implementation of the local wellness policy.

The students in West Virginia schools come from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences. In order to promote students' physical, social and emotional health, the West Virginia Board of Education adopted among its strategic goals the following as Goal #3: All students and school personnel shall develop and promote responsibility, citizenship, strong character and healthful living. This goal supports the Board's desire to have "wellness" as a priority issue in all schools. The West Virginia Board of Education believes that county boards of education can make a positive impact on promoting healthy lifestyles among students and staff through the development and implementation of proactive local wellness policies. In addition, the Board believes all schools should provide a consistent environment that is conducive to healthful eating behaviors and regular physical activity. The Board also believes that all educators should be advocates for promoting healthy lifestyle choices that are proven to have a positive influence on student achievement and preparation for becoming a productive citizen of the 21st Century.

The West Virginia Board of Education understands that a substantial portion of students' daily food intake and physical activity occurs within the school setting; therefore, schools are a critical setting for addressing childhood obesity. Thus, the Board believes that county boards of education should carefully deliberate and weigh the issues included in local wellness policies with the constant compass of what is in the students' best interest for health and well-being. With this principle in mind, the Board encourages county boards to prepare, adopt and implement a comprehensive nutrition and physical activity plan that includes:

  • A food service program that employs well-informed staff who efficiently serve appealing choices of nutritious foods;
  • Pleasant eating areas for students and staff with adequate time for unhurried eating;
  • Nutritional standards for all foods and beverages sold or served in schools outside of the federal school lunch program;
  • A sequential program of nutrition instruction focused on influencing students' knowledge, attitudes and eating habits that is integrated within the comprehensive school health education curriculum, coordinated with the food service program and taught by well-informed and well-supported staff;
  • An overall school environment that encourages students to make healthy food and physical activity choices;
  • Opportunities and encouragement for staff to model healthy eating and physical activity habits as a valuable part of daily life;
  • Time and opportunities for vigorous physical activity during the school day;
  • Evaluation of school practices related to nutrition, physical activity, and obesity prevention; and
  • Strategies to involve family members in program development and implementation.

The West Virginia Board of Education encourages county boards of education to adopt the following standards as part of the total wellness policy for implementation at all schools. These statements are substantiated by published research.

Nutrition

The West Virginia Board of Education sets the minimum standards for child and school nutrition programs through Policies 4320 and 4321.1. Good nutrition and health enable young people to grow, develop, and do well in school. Therefore, the Board believes that county boards of education should strive to support school environments that promote access to healthful school meals that meet the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, enabling students to learn lifelong healthful eating habits in the school cafeteria. The Board also believes that all students should possess the knowledge and skills necessary to make nutritious and enjoyable food choices for a lifetime.

The West Virginia Board of Education believes that county boards of education should strive to exceed the minimum standards set forth in current policy and support healthful choices for all foods and beverages offered or sold on the school premises whether in vending machines, school stores, fundraisers, school parties and celebrations, booster sales or as rewards. The West Virginia Board of Education recommends that all foods served and sold during the school day outside of the federally funded school meal program meet the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans including the following criteria:

  • Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value (FMNV) will not be available anytime on school premises. FMNV are foods that provide less than 5% of the recommended daily allowance per serving of protein, vitamins A and C, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, calcium and iron;
  • Foods will not contain caffeine or artificial sweeteners;
  • The sale or service of foods containing 35% or more added sugar by weight is prohibited;
  • Packages will be in single serving sizes;
  • Items will provide less than 200 calories per serving;
  • A variety of items that provide more than 2 grams of fiber per serving will be available on a daily basis; and
  • A variety of fresh fruits and vegetables will be available whenever and wherever it is feasible to adhere to all food handling and storage safety standards.

The West Virginia Board of Education recommends the following criteria for all beverages served and sold during the school day outside the federally funded school meal program:

  • water (any size; without added sweeteners);
  • 100% fruit or vegetable juice (not to exceed 6 ounces);
  • Milk, 1 % low fat or nonfat (not to exceed 8 ounces), flavored or unflavored (not to exceed 30 grams of sugar inclusive of naturally occurring sugar), preferably packaged in plastic re-sealable containers.

The West Virginia Board of Education recommends that county boards of education require that healthy food and beverage choices be made available whenever and wherever food and beverages are served or sold on school premises or at school sponsored events.

Physical Activity

The West Virginia Board of Education sets the minimum standards for the content and duration of Physical Education in Policies 2510 and 2520.6. The Board believes that county boards of education should strive to exceed the minimum standards and provide daily physical education classes whenever and wherever staff and facilities allow. The Board recommends that county boards of education support and promote the development of school schedules that allow students and staff to accumulate at least sixty minutes of physical activity everyday through a combination of physical education, recess, and before/after school activities. The Board does not believe that students should be deprived of physical activity as a result of disciplinary action.

Health Education

The West Virginia Board of Education sets the minimum standards for Health Education, including nutrition education, and student assessment of health knowledge in Policy 2520.5; therefore, the Board believes that county boards of education should strive to assure appropriate classroom instructional time for health education. The Board encourages all teachers to integrate healthy lifestyles concepts across the curriculum.

School System Issues

The West Virginia Board of Education believes that schools should be adequately funded, thus eliminating any incentive schools might have to raise funds by advertising products and selling foods and beverages that compromise children's health. The Board believes that county boards should encourage clubs and booster organizations to develop creative means of fundraising that do not include selling foods of minimal nutritional value. The West Virginia Board of Education believes that all school personnel are key to the success of any school-wide endeavor and are valuable role models for all student behavior; therefore, the Board believes that county boards of education should promote staff wellness programs. The Board recommends that assistance be sought from the Public Employees Insurance Agency's Pathways to Wellness initiative.

The West Virginia Board of Education believes that the school health program should make effective use of school and community resources and equitably serve the needs, interests and cultural norms of all students and staff. Therefore, the Board believes that county boards of education should ensure that local wellness councils include required representatives, as well as community groups, health professionals and organizations, business partners and others.

Finally, the West Virginia Board of Education recognizes that the enthusiastic support of principals and the devotion of parents are key factors in the successful implementation of wellness policies. The Board also recognizes the collaborative efforts of other state officials and agencies that are committed to improving the health of West Virginia's children and supporting the Board's position on school wellness policies: West Virginia Department of Education; West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources; West Virginia Healthy Lifestyle Coalition; *Research based data was provided by: Action for Healthy Kids; American Academy of Family Physicians; American Academy of Pediatrics; American Dental Association; American Diabetes Association; American Dietetic Association; American Medical Association; Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Institute of Medicine; National Association of Sport and Physical Education; National Association of State Boards of Education; National School Nutrition Association; United States Department of Agriculture

Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.