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hat can I really do about the health and wellness efforts in my district? This is a commonly asked question by parents who would like to see changes in their child’s school. From recess to healthier fundraisers, there are ways to have your voice heard. Did you know you have a platform to make these requests? The district School Health Advisory Council is a group made up of different segments of the community and tackles all things health related. Fifty percent of the group must be parents. Some of the things they do include: enacting policies that address recess or healthy food/ non-food fundraisers, require health education as a graduation credit and develops stricter bullying policies. Each year, the SHAC is required to submit an annual report to their Board of Trustees that outlines recommendations on various health-related issues. By leveraging the research of best practices and evidence-based programs, SHAC’s can provide an awareness to Board members that allows for insightful policy revisions. When the USDA released the final rules on Smart Snacks, wellness policies, school meal program reviews, and Community Eligibility Provisions, it allowed for district SHAC’s to have even more influence when reviewing their local wellness policy. According to a press release recently released by the USDA, the Local School Wellness Policy final rule empowers communities to take an active role in the health of their children. It requires schools to engage parents, students and community members in the annual development and assessment of local school wellness policies. These policies guide a school district’s efforts to establish school environments that support healthy eating and physical activity. States and local communities will have flexibility in developing a policy that works best for them. While the Local School Wellness Policy is part of the four final rules of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, the other rules include Smart Snacks, regulations ensuring access to healthy food, consistent nutrition standards and greater program integrity. Many of us might be aware of what Smart Snacks are, but the final rule on Smart Snacks makes modest improvements to those standards based on public comments and lessons learned from implementation including flexibility for state and local communities. This permits substantial local sovereignty and allows districts to have stricter policies (of which many can be recommended by the district SHAC). So now is the perfect time to see if your school has representation on your district’s SHAC. If not, it’s a great time to get involved. Would you like to see daily recess at your child’s school? An updated local wellness policy? Check with your district for information on how you can join and start making a bigger impact in your school community. 25

The Voice I Back to School 2016  
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