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​​Wellness & Nutrition

School Wellness Policy

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires Local Education Agencies (LEAs) participating in the National School Lunch Program and/or School Breakfast Program to have a wellness policy. As part of the Healthy Hungry Free Kids Act of 2010, LEAs were required to update and expand their wellness policies by June 30, 2017. Each LEAs’ wellness policy must include the following components:
  • Goals for nutrition education, nutrition promotion, physical activity, and other wellness activities
  • Guidelines for School Meals and other foods sold on the school campus during the school day, USDA and Maryland Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold.  
  • Standards for foods made available to students during the school day (birthdays, celebrations, rewards, etc.)
  • Policies for food and beverage marketing
  • Reporting
  • Public involvement 
  • Triennial assessment 
  • Policy Leadership

The Office of School and Community Nutrition Programs (OSCNP) developed two videos to support the final rule implementation. These videos are helpful for new members of wellness councils and teams to better understand the wellness policy requirements. See Getting Started on Implementing the 2017 Wellness Policy Final Rule.

The USDA WSCC Model outlining the 10 components for adressing health in schools.

Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child 

Many LEAs in Maryland have been recognized as national leaders in their wellness policy work. Maryland has advocated and supported LEAs in developing wellness policies that include components of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model, a framework developed by the Center for Disease Control to address health in schools.


Wellness Policy Resources 

Maryland School Wellness


Maryland Wellness and Policies and Practices Project

The mission of the Maryland Wellness Policies and Practices Project (MWPPP) is to enhance opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity for Maryland students by helping schools and school systems create and implement comprehensive written wellness policies.  The MWPP team uses the data from the biennial evaluation to develop and distribute county and state-level data reports. These reports outline system-level data and tailored evidence-based recommendations. The data and reports support LEAs in meeting their triennial assessment requirements. 
Partners in MWPPP include the University of Maryland Baltimore Division of Growth and Nutrition, University of Maryland Extension, Maryland Department of Health, John Hopkins University, and LEA representation. 

Maryland School Wellness Scorecard

This scorecard is a tool for school-level wellness teams to complete. The tool is designed for schools to assess and prioritize wellness practices that promote nutrition and physical activity. This tool supports LEAs and schools in meeting their triennial assessment requirements. 

Maryland School Wellness Scorecard
Maryland School Wellness Scorecard

Smart Snacks


Since July 2014, the federal government requires Local Education Agencies (LEAs) that participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and/or School Breakfast Program (SBP) to adopt Smart Snacks standards for all foods and beverages sold to students on the school campus during the school day. Compliance with these rules is embedded in every school systems’ Wellness Policy.

In addition to adopting the USDA Smart Snacks standard, Maryland schools have continued to uphold two beverage standards, which do not allow caffeinated beverages or diet sodas to be offered to students throughout the school day.  Some school districts have embraced more stringent rules than those of the USDA and Maryland Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in Schools.

The following tools may be used to assess products’ compliance with USDA Smart Snack Standards.
The Office of School and Community Nutrition Programs works with local, state, and national partners to support wellness policy implementation and evaluation. 

Getting Started on Implementing the 2017 Wellness Policy Final Rule 

Getting Started-Wellness Policy

Building a robust team of stakeholders is a critical step in the wellness policy process. This video identifies strategies for gaining participation and leadership in each step of wellness policy development, implementation, and review.

Writing Your Wellness Policy

Time to write or update your wellness policy. Ensure your policy includes all required components and can easily be measured. Find out more details about how to integrate requirements while creating a policy that works for your school community.

Nutrition Education & Promotion

Each LEAs wellness policy outlines specific guidelines and standards for nutrition education and nutrition promotion. The standards for nutrition education align with national and state health education standards. The OSNCP collaborates with MSDE’s health education specialist and LEA Health Education supervisors to support implementation of these standards. 

With the use of the USDA Team Nutrition Grant, the OSCNP has developed and distributed nutrition education resources to child care centers and schools participating in the Child Nutrition Programs.  The goal of the OSCNP grant funded nutrition education activities is to improve OSCNP the nutrition environment of schools and child care centers, to support child and student wellness and development, and to demonstrate the nutritional value of Child Nutrition Programs. within that goal, we provide schools and agencies with accurate and up-to-date food and nutrition information as it relates to content and curriculum standards for early childhood education through high school. 

Maryland’s Building Blocks for Healthy Children Nutrition Education Toolkit

The toolkit is focused on shaping positive food preferences and eating habits among preschoolers, specific to fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The lessons connect food and nutrition to math, science, and language arts content, aligned with school readiness standards.