Toolkit Assists Schools With Wellness Policy

Providence Public Schools’ Wellness Committee has developed a resource guide to assist schools in understanding and implementing the Providence Public Schools Wellness Policy approved by the School Board in November 2013.

In a simple question and answer format, the Toolkit answers questions and provides ideas about fundraising, classroom celebrations, fun and healthy monthly and seasonal festivities, physical education and physical activity. A reference section and important highlights of the policy’s guidelines and requirements are also included as well as ideas and suggestions for creating a healthy and happy school environment.

Questions such as “Can I sell candy after school hours as a school fundraiser?” to “Does this new policy mean we cannot have food in classroom celebrations?” are clarified. (While neither is prohibited, in both cases, non-food based products are strongly encouraged.) The Toolkit also offers suggestions for how to help students be more physically active during the school day.

For Dr. Christopher Kennedy, principal at Carl Lauro Elementary School, the Toolkit has been helpful in promoting health and wellness. “It is an easy reference guide for the basics of how healthy schools should operate. We will not be selling candy or food for fundraising, no longer sell ice cream at lunch, and we are looking to promote physical well-being through yoga, dance, jog-a-thons and marching in the Columbus Day Parade,” he said.

Courtney Monterecy, principal at Mary Fogarty Elementary School, also found the Toolkit very helpful. “The key is making sure our children and families have access to healthier choices and celebrating those foods,” she said. At the school’s Open House, ice cream and cookies were replaced with vegetables and fruits and the school is encouraging students to use the salad bar at lunchtime.

The Providence Schools Wellness Policy was created to meet and exceed new and required U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines. Federal requirements state that school districts participating in the National School Lunch Program must establish and maintain a district wellness committee and local wellness policy. The Providence Schools Wellness Policy contains goals and expectations relating to nutrition guidelines and education, physical and health education and physical activity.

“The Wellness Policy will help our schools become healthier places for everyone, and the Toolkit will help teachers and principals with easy ways to practice and promote wellness every day,” said Peter Asen, director of the city’s Healthy Communities Office. “Our goal is for students to learn and practice healthier habits, but also to achieve more academic success.”

The Toolkit will be updated to reflect new federal Smart Snacks regulations.

The PPSD Wellness Policy can be found under these links: