The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has released Making Wellness Work: A Guide to Implementing and Monitoring Wellness Policies in Maryland. Wellness policy committee members representing MSDE, school food and nutrition services, health education, and physical education from Maryland school systems contributed to the development of the guide. Wellness committees from five school systems piloted the guide in 2008.
In response to growing rates of childhood obesity, Congress passed a law in 2004 requiring all schools participating in the National School Lunch Program to establish wellness policies for the 2006-2007 school year. MSDE, along with a statewide wellness committee, developed the Wellness Policy Implementation Guide in response to local superintendents’ request that school systems receive a tool to evaluate their wellness policies. All Maryland school systems received a copy of, and an opportunity to use, the new Making Wellness Work Guide at a statewide meeting on April 22, 2009. Wellness committees will continue to work together to refine their school system’s wellness policy.
The guide provides sample goals for each of the four required components of Wellness Policies –physical activity or education, nutrition standards, nutrition education, and other school-based activities that promote student wellness. In addition, each goal has specific implementation activities, steps to support implementation, expected outcomes, and monitoring opportunities.
The Action for Healthy Kids’ Fall 2008 report on nationwide school wellness policies states that, “while great strides have been made, there are still gaps that need to be addressed in the implementation of school wellness policies.” MSDE is pleased to provide school systems with a tool to assist them in implementing and tracking the success of their wellness policies. Maryland is eager to lead the fight against childhood obesity and improve the health of its students.
For more information on Maryland’s School Wellness Policies, please contact the School and Community Nutrition Programs Branch at MSDE at 410-767-0219 or email Stewart Eidel at firstname.lastname@example.org. The guide can be downloaded on the MSDE School website located at www.marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/programs/school_wellness.