CDPHP Collaborative News - Spotlight on: School Wellness Policies - FEBRUARY 2017

Alaska Section of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

CDPHP Collaborative News

Safe and Healthy Me - Eat Well, Move More, Stay Safe, Tobacco Free.

School Wellness Policy Links

> Alaska School Wellness Policies homepage

> Alaska Mandatory Physical Activity in Schools Law homepage

> USDA Team Nutrition Local School Wellness policy homepage

Learn More

Alaska’s Mandatory Physical Activity in Schools legislation - FAQ webinar

Safe and Healthy Me - Video Stories

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Meet Daniel. Over time, he’d become more sedentary, chose foods that weren’t the healthiest options and gained weight. He struggled to climb up the stairs to his third-story apartment.

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Spotlight on:

 School Wellness Policies

Student trying to find a healthy snack at a vending machine

Are you looking for a way to help young Alaskans grow up at a healthy weight?

One of the best ways to focus your efforts is helping your school district pass and implement a strong school wellness policy. Evidence of the importance of a strong school wellness policy (also known as a student nutrition and physical activity policy) is so clear that the federal government has mandated that every school district receiving funds for school breakfast or lunch have one.

In Alaska, school wellness policies make a difference 

Alaska school surveys indicate that policy works. A clear example can be seen regarding chocolate candy, other candy and salty snacks in schools. The School Health Profiles Survey is conducted every other year in Alaska secondary schools. Survey responses from public school principals show encouraging progress in the availability of junk foods in Alaska schools and a clear relationship between a school’s nutrition policy and which foods are actually sold to children. As shown in the graph below, a major decline in the availability of junk food in Alaska schools occurred in 2008, directly following a federal requirement that all schools pass a wellness policy addressing student nutrition and physical activity. The percentages of schools selling candy, chocolate, and salty snacks were all cut in half compared to the 2002 levels. 

Alaska Schools Where Students Can Purchase Candy & Salty Snacks_2002-2016

What happened next really supports the argument that policy makes a difference. Rather than a constant decrease in junk food availability, declines leveled off for a couple of years — until new regulations were released. In 2014, Smart Snacks nutrition standards began to specifically require that “competitive foods” — snacks and beverages sold in vending machines, school stores, snack carts, á la carte lines and fundraising efforts during the school day — are nutritious and promote health. The graph shows that immediately afterward, there was a second big drop in junk food availability. The percentages of schools selling all three types of junk foods were cut in half again, compared to their 2008 levels. Wellness Policies aren’t sitting on shelves in Alaska. Today, less than 11% of Alaska’s schools sell chocolate candy, other candies, or salty snacks.

Now is the time to help Alaska schools update their wellness policies

While most districts have a school wellness policy in place, and there are some great success stories of Alaska districts putting their policies into action, the summer of 2016 brought both state and federal regulations that mean most Alaska districts need to update their wellness policies this year. A new Alaska law called Mandatory Physical Activity in Schools was signed into law in July 2016 and went into effect October 16, 2016. All students in grades K-8 in Alaska schools must be provided opportunities for nearly an hour of physical activity during each full school day.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a final rule on wellness policy implementation in July 2016. Now federal regulations don’t just require schools to have a wellness policy on the books; they require districts to report on implementation, and to involve the community in developing and updating these policies. Schools must be in compliance with all USDA local wellness policy regulations by June 30, 2017.

You can get involved in your district. Alaska’s Obesity Prevention and Control Program, in concert with the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development Child Nutrition Program, has developed a Gold Standard School Wellness policy that meets all state and federal requirements. Check out this flyer for some actionable steps to promote strong wellness policies and Be a School Wellness Champion.

For more information about school wellness policies, contact Lauren Kelsey, Obesity Prevention School Partnership Coordinator, at


Key Section Publications

Alaska CDPHP Public Health Webinars

Save the Date - February 2017

Alaska Statewide Special Education Conference

  • When: February 6-8, 2017
  • Where: Hilton Hotel, Anchorage
  • Learn More>

Alaska Pharmacists Association 51st Annual Convention

  • When: February 10-12, 2017
  • Where: Sheraton Hotel, Anchorage
  • Learn More>

2017 Alaska PLAAY SUMMIT

  • When: February 24-25, 2017
  • Where: Alaska
    Native Tribal Health Consortium, Anchorage
  • Learn More>

Save the Date - March & April 2017:

Alaska Academy of Family Physicians Winter Update

  • When: March 10-12, 2017
  • Where: Hotel Alyeska, Girdwood
  • Learn More>


16th Annual Full Lives Conference

New Directions in Alaska: Focusing on the Future Together!

  • When: March 22-23, 2017
  • Where: Hotel Captain Cook, Anchorage
  • Learn More>


Alaska Psychiatric Association 24th Annual CME Meeting

  • When: March 31-April 2, 2017
  • Where: Hotel Alyeska, Girdwood
  • Learn More>


Alaska Chapter of the American College of Physicians Annual Meeting

  • When: April 20-22, 2017
  • Where: Sheraton Hotel, Anchorage
  • Learn More>


Alaska Heart Run

  • When: April 22, 2017
  • Where: Alaska Airlines Center, Anchorage
  • Learn More>


Community Health Aide Program (CHAP) Forum

  • When: April 24-28, 2017
  • Where: Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Anchorage
  • Learn More>


Alaska’s Mandatory Physical Activity in Schools legislation - FAQ webinar