FNS Seeks Comments on Proposed Rule Establishing Stronger Requirements for Local School Wellness Policies; Rule Also Proposes to Limit Marketing of Foods in Schools

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) today published its proposed rule regarding Local School Wellness Policy under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (the proposed rule) in the Federal Register. The proposed rule is a result of Section 204 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which added a new section 9A to the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (the NSLA) to require that each local educational agency participating in a program authorized by this Act or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq.) shall establish a local school wellness policy for all schools under the jurisdiction of the local educational agency.

The proposed rule would:

  • Establish the framework for the content of the local school wellness policies;
  • Ensure stakeholder participation in the development of such policies;
  • Require periodic assessment of compliance and reporting on the progress toward achieving the goals of the local school wellness policy;
  • Require local educational agencies, as part of the local school wellness policy, to implement policies for the marketing of foods and beverages on the school campus during the school day consistent with nutrition standards for Smart Snacks; and
  • Require each local educational agency to make information about local school wellness policy implementation for all participating schools available to the public on a periodic basis.

The goal of the proposed rule is to ensure local educational agencies establish and implement local school wellness policies that meet minimum standards designed to support a school environment that promotes sound nutrition and student health, reduces childhood obesity, and provides transparency to the public on school wellness policy content and implementation.

While comments are welcome regarding all aspects of the proposed rule, the notice asks for comments on certain subjects in particular, including:

  • That Local Education Agencies (LEAs) include in their local wellness plans policies that allow marketing of only those foods and beverages that may be sold on the school campus during the school day, i.e., those foods and beverages that meet the requirements set forth in the Smart Snacks interim rule (or the more restrictive standards adopted by the LEA, if applicable);
  • The definition of food marketing, which commonly includes oral, written, or graphic statements made for the purpose of promoting the sale of a food or beverage product made by the producer, manufacturer, seller, or any other entity with a commercial interest in the product;
  • Whether the annual frequency of the progress reporting would serve to ensure local school wellness policies and school-based activities are communicated to parents and the community without being overly burdensome to LEAs;
  • Whether the 3-year frequency of the assessment of local school wellness policies would serve to ensure these policies are kept up-to-date without being overly burdensome to LEAs;
  • The specific areas that should be included in the components of an effective assessment of compliance by schools and determining progress toward benchmarks, objectives and goals;
  • Record and reporting requirement costs for local school wellness policies;
  • Information collection requirements imposed by the proposed rule; and
  • Any current Tribal laws that would be in conflict with the proposed rule.

Comments on the proposed rule are due on or before April 28, 2014, and can be submitted in two ways:

Julie Brewer, Chief

Policy and Program Development Branch

Child Nutrition Division

Food and Nutrition Service

Department of Agriculture

P.O. Box 66740

Saint Louis, MO, 63166-6740

Comments regarding the information collection requirements should be sent to:

Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs,

Office of Management and Budget

Attention: Desk Officer for FNS

Washington, DC 20503.

A copy of these comments regarding information collection requirements should also be sent to:

Lynn Rodgers, Chief

Program Monitoring Branch

Child Nutrition Programs

3101 Park Center Drive

Alexandria, VA 22302

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