Valley City Public Schools is reviewing its wellness policy, and school officials are hoping for public involvement in the process.
A rough draft of the policy, compiled from several model policies recommended by the government, will go to administrative council for review. From there it goes through the schools’ 11-member Nutrition Team, made up of made up of parents, students, teachers, administration and the public. Following another review by administration council it goes to the public for review.
“It’s going to be a long process but we definitely want community involvement because the school in Valley City plays a very important role in the community,” said food services director Sue Milender. “So we want to make sure the wellness policy represents the community too, but most importantly is the health of the students.”
Valley City was one of the first schools in the state to adopt a wellness policy. Former-president George W. Bush signed legislation in 2004 that required all schools that receive federal funding to adopt such a policy to promote health and fitness to American students. School board and Nutrition Team member Sharon Buhr said the policy had been discussed at a conference about 18 months before becoming official, and Valley City school officials were ahead of the curve in developing the policy well before the 2006 deadline. Valley City’s policy had been used as a model for other schools when developing policies of their own.
“Since that time, Valley City Public Schools has taken the contents of a wellness policy very seriously, because we looked at the research, and research has shown us that children learn better when they eat healthy. The learn better when they are at a healthier weight for them... we just want every child to be the best they can be.”
Milender expects that new recommendations from the federal government will address “competitive foods,” foods that are sold in addition to items from the cafeteria. The schools have already phased out soda machines in the schools.
“We had a lot of comments from our patrons - the moms and dads - saying why are we having soda pop in school?,” Buhr said. “Meanwhile we were reading the literature and realizing that this was a big problem, having so much access to soda pop.”
Buhr said more information about student health is available now, and continued change to the policy is necessary.
“We have been changing our policy and that’s what one should do with a policy. It should never be stagnant, it should be alive and responsive to the needs of the people at the moment,” Buhr said.