About the Issue

All children – from all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, through all grades, and in urban and rural settings – benefit from regular physical activity and good nutrition. In fact, children who are healthy and active learn better, perform better academically, and have fewer behavioral problems.

Despite our knowledge of these benefits, this generation of children could be the first in the history of the United States to live less healthy and shorter lives than their parents unless we take action.

Considering that many children spend a majority of their waking hours at school, it is critical for schools to provide a healthy environment to help improve the overall wellness of children.

Schools play an important role in helping kids learn and practice healthy nutrition and physical activity habits, but everyone should have a vested interest in promoting the health of children. We can all agree that establishing a healthy school environment is important, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service recently established regulations for the development of wellness policies that can be implemented to promote students’ health, well-being, and ability to learn.

The responsibility for developing these policies has been placed at the local level, so the unique needs of each school can be addressed. Parents, teachers, students, and other community members can partner with schools to develop or update their wellness plans to ensure kids are receiving and learning healthy nutrition and physical activity habits that will last a lifetime.

Throughout this toolkit, you will find helpful information for building out your own advocacy efforts aimed at effectively implementing a school wellness policy in your own community. It includes steps on building a campaign, resources and example content, and stories of success in other communities. Together, by encouraging our educational and community leaders to support healthy eating and physical activity habits, we can make students healthier and happier, and increase their academic success – no matter where they live, what school they attend, or what grade they are in.