About the Project

The Local Wellness Policy Evaluation Project is a part of the Wisconsin Obesity Prevention Initiative (OPI). The OPI works to build healthier communities for Wisconsin children and to prevent childhood obesity. We aim to improve childhood health because it is foundational to academic achievement, socioemotional development, and lifelong health. As part of ongoing health-related policy surveillance, we continually evaluate Local Wellness Policies and other policies related to child well-being.

Our researchers review Local Wellness Policies from public districts, charters and private schools that participate in federally sponsored nutrition programs. Participating districts, charters, and private schools are mandated to have a Local Wellness Policy. The goal of this evaluation project is to inform policy decisions at the district and school level by providing evaluation data and tools for success.


What is a Local Wellness Policy?

A Local Wellness Policy is a set of policies and procedures that govern nutrition and physical activity for students at school. At the district level, Local Wellness Policies are created by a school wellness committee comprised of staff, administrators, parents, and community members.

Research suggests that high quality Local Wellness Policies are associated with positive school practices and outcomes for students. These include healthier food options, increased physical activity, increased fruit and vegetable intake, and lower risk of student obesity.


How do we evaluate Local Wellness Policies?

We evaluated Local Wellness Policies from Wisconsin public districts, charters, and private schools that participate in federally-sponsored nutrition programs for the breadth and strength of language that addresses 74 research-based best practices for supporting student health. These best practices are organized into six content areas:

  • Nutrition Education: includes nutrition curriculum or lessons at all grade levels
  • School Meals: Includes nutrition standards for school meal programs
  • Physical Education & Physical Activity: Includes PE curriculum and opportunities for physical activity throughout the school day
  • Wellness Promotion & Marketing: Includes health promotion strategies, staff modeling, and guidelines for marketing
  • Implementation, Evaluation, and Communication: Includes active wellness committees with community-wide representation

The 74 best practices come from the WellSAT 2.0, a publicly available evaluation tool that allows districts and schools to rate the quality of language in their Local Wellness Policies.

The WellSAT was developed by researchers at the University of Connecticut Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.

You can evaluate your own policy and find out more about the WellSAT 2.0 tool at www.wellsat.org.


Results

Each of the content areas receives two scores that reflect:

  • Breadth of policy language, or how many best practices within a content area are addressed
  • Strength of policy language, or how many best practices within a content area are required using clear, specific policy language

Scores range from 0 to 100 for each content area. To interpret your policy's score, click here.

We received policies either directly on district websites, or from districts sending us their policies. All participating school districts, charters, and private schools received an electronic evaluation report with their results. If your district did not receive a report, please contact us at wihealthatlas@hslc.wisc.edu.

Click here to view statewide and regional results.