Sharpen the Wellness Policy in your School

School Wellness Advisory Committees

In 2010, Massachusetts passed An Act Relative to School Nutrition, which requires that every Massachusetts public school district have a School Wellness Advisory Committee (SWAC) in place. This committee is to be appointed by the superintendent. Many Massachusetts districts already have an established group that focuses on student health, wellness, and safety, although sometimes these groups or committees go by different names. A separate new group is not required as long as the group includes the specific members and performs the functions required for School Wellness Advisory Committees. This committee can also serve as the wellness policy development team. In fact, two of the SWAC's essential functions include making recommendations about revisions to the district's School Wellness Policy and developing and implementing an annual action plan to make the changes indicated by the Wellness Policy. In addition, the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act at the federal level outlines specific focus areas.

As much as possible, the SWAC should reflect the cultural, linguistic, and ethnic composition of the community. It is also important in to recruit school staff and community members who can bring energy, enthusiasm, and a commitment to children's health.

Massachusetts regulations require that School Wellness Advisory Committees include the following:

Committees may also wish to include the following stakeholders:

The School Wellness Advisory Committee must meet at least 4 times per year. The committee needs to complete a needs assessment each year, reviewing both student health data and information about current school programs and practices. SWACs must:

Immediate Steps: The federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and the Massachusetts regulations for School Wellness Advisory Committees (SWACs) complement each other nicely. School Wellness Advisory Committee regulations specify WHO needs to be involved and HOW they should work together during the year. HHFKA indicates WHAT needs to be the major focus of attention should be first, in the district's Local School Wellness Policy. During this current school year: