School wellness policy reflects district's efforts
WILLMAR -- Whole grain breads and buns are the norm in Willmar school cafeterias, and students eat turkey ham in their sandwiches. Corn dogs are low-fat chicken dogs dipped in whole grain batter. Fresh fruits and vegetables are served several tim...
WILLMAR -- Whole grain breads and buns are the norm in Willmar school cafeterias, and students eat turkey ham in their sandwiches.
Corn dogs are low-fat chicken dogs dipped in whole grain batter.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are served several times a week.
Even the cinnamon rolls are made with whole grain flour, and less than 30 percent of their calories come from fat. It's all part of a long-standing effort to continue to offer healthy choices for students.
Soon, that effort will be part of the district's wellness policy, too.
Food Service Director Annette Derouin and the district's wellness committee are ready to present the final draft of the policy to the School Board.
All schools that participate in federal school nutrition programs are required to have a wellness policy in place before school starts next fall.
Willmar's policy, because it has been finished fairly early in the process, has become a model for many school districts across the state.
Derouin worked with Marilyn Bolin, a public health nurse who works with the Steps to a Healthier Willmar program, to develop the policy.
Many parts of the policy reflect the district's efforts to incorporate more whole grains and fresh foods into the menu, Derouin said.
"We're offering more choice," she said. "I think that's been the most positive change we've made."
Food service distributors are offering more healthy choices as more school ask for them, Derouin said.
"It's a challenge for all districts," she said.
Likewise, writing a wellness policy according to federal guidelines is a challenge, particularly for smaller districts that don't have the staff resources a larger district might have.
That's where Willmar's draft policy comes in. It gives other districts a starting point for their own policies.
Hundreds of schools have asked for a copy of Willmar's policy, Bolin said. Willmar will also be included in a University of Southern Mississippi study of how districts in different regions responded to this new federal requirement.
"That's encouraging for me, that other districts are looking at us," Derouin said.