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Policy 9090 – Wellness Through Nutrition and Physical Activity

The purpose of this policy is to provide direction to HCPSS employees regarding employee and student wellness through nutrition education, physical education, physical activity, and the selection of nourishing foods and beverages and to fulfill the requirements of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

Policy Document

I. Policy Value Statement

The Board of Education of Howard County recognizes the connection between health and wellness and student achievement and that students need sufficient nourishing foods and physical activity in order to grow, learn, and thrive. The Board recognizes that food is a core determinant of health and food insecurity leads to numerous health outcomes. The Board also recognizes its responsibility to provide a safe and healthy learning environment for all students. The Board believes that employee wellness is also an integral part of a healthy school environment and believes that promoting employee wellness fosters improved health status, improved morale, greater commitment to the health of students, and positive role modeling opportunities.

The Board further acknowledges the necessity for the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) to ensure a coordinated approach to school health. The Board recognizes that mental health is part of the overall wellness and well-being of students and employees and will support programs to acknowledge this. The Board also acknowledges the necessity to ensure that the school environment promotes and protects students’ ability to learn by providing nutrition education, physical activity, and a variety of healthy food and beverage choices. The Board believes schools have a responsibility to help students develop the skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide direction to HCPSS employees regarding employee and student wellness through nutrition education, physical education, physical activity, and the selection of nourishing foods and beverages and to fulfill the requirements of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

III. Standards

  1. Health and Nutrition Education

    Health and nutrition education provides students with opportunities to acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary for making health-promoting decisions, achieving health literacy, adopting health-enhancing behaviors, and promoting the health of others.

    1. The HCPSS will implement a comprehensive health education program which includes nutrition education as part of the instructional program, in accordance with COMAR 13A.04.18.

    2. Health literacy skills to support healthy eating will be included in the health education curriculum each year in prekindergarten-grade 8, and in the high school health education curriculum that enables students to meet graduation requirements and to select a health education elective.

    3. The health education curriculum will be aligned with the National Health Education Standards and the Maryland State Health Education Curriculum.

    4. Nutrition education will be offered and integrated in appropriate curricular areas at each grade level as part of a sequential, comprehensive, standards-based program designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to promote and protect their health.

  2. Physical Education

    Physical education provides instructional opportunities for students to gain the necessary skills and knowledge for lifelong participation in physical activity.

    1. The HCPSS will implement a curriculum in physical education in accordance with Maryland State Physical Education Curriculum, COMAR 13A.04.13, and the Fitness and Equity Act 2008.

    2. Physical education will be provided each year for all students in prekindergarten-grade 8.

    3. In grades 9–12, program offerings will be provided to enable students to meet graduation requirements and to select physical education electives.

    4. Under the Maryland State Board of Education regulations, the physical education curriculum will be modified if a student’s physical limitation or medical condition warrants such accommodation rather than exemption from physical education.

  3. Physical Activity

    Physical activity opportunities will be offered throughout the school day to support student learning and achievement.

    1. Recess will be a daily component of all elementary and middle school students’ physical, social, and academic development.

    2. Recess will provide an opportunity for students to take a break from classwork, engage in play with their peers, and participate in unstructured activities.

    3. School employees will not deny participation in recess or other physical activity opportunities as a form of discipline or punishment unless the safety of students is in question.

    4. Physical activity will not be used as a punishment (e.g. running laps or doing push-ups).

    5. All school employees will be provided professional development on physical activity breaks and encouraged to incorporate physical activity into classroom instruction.

    6. All middle school students will have the opportunity to participate in intramural sports and other physical activities which will be provided by each middle school.

    7. Each high school will provide an interscholastic athletic program in accordance with Policy 9080 Interscholastic Athletic Program and Policy 9070 Academic Eligibility for High School Extracurricular Activities.

    8. The HCPSS will promote using school facilities outside of school hours for physical activity programs offered by community-based organizations. Priority for space within school buildings will be given to school-sponsored activities and community-based activities in accordance with Policy 10020 Use of School Facilities.

  4. Nutrition Services; Foods and Beverages

    The HCPSS will provide access to a variety of nutritious and appealing meals that accommodate the health and nutrition needs of all students. The following standards apply to all foods and beverages made available to students at school during the school day.

    1. General

      1. All foods will meet safety guidelines (as outlined in the Howard County Health Department Regulations).

      2. All schools will have in place a food safety plan based on process Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles.

      3. Foods and beverages will not be consumed as part of the instructional program except as defined in the curriculum and/or when indicated in a student’s Individualized Educational Program (IEP) or 504 Plan.

      4. Foods and beverages will not be offered as a reward or withheld as punishment, except when indicated in a student’s IEP or 504 Plan.

      5. All students and employees will have free access to clean and safe drinking water throughout the school day and at after-school activities. The HCPSS promotes the consumption of water as an essential element that plays a role in overall health and wellness.

      6. All foods sold and advertised outside the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program will meet or exceed the USDA Smart Snacks in Schools nutrition standards and will comply with the Maryland Nutrition Standards for All Food Sold in School. The HCPSS will comply with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Nutrition Standards for these foods. Foods and beverages will comply with the IOM Nutrition Standards.

      7. Information on USDA Smart Snacks in Schools and the IOM Nutrition Standards will be available on the HCPSS Food and Nutrition Service website.

      8. Food related fundraisers during the school day are prohibited.

    2. School Meals

      1. The HCPSS will provide the opportunity for all students to begin the school day with a nutritious breakfast.

      2. The HCPSS School Food and Nutrition Service Office will make meal pattern lunches available to students each day that school is in session (including early dismissal days), as well as a la carte and snack/dessert items.

      3. School nutrition programs will reflect the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Healthier US Schools Challenge Standards, and the IOM Nutrition Standards. Nutritional information will be posted on the HCPSS School Meals website.

      4. No physical segregation of or other discrimination against any child eligible for a free lunch or a reduced price lunch will be made by the school nor will there be any overt identification of any child by special tokens or tickets, announced or published lists of names, or by other means.

      5. Schools will make every effort to eliminate any social stigma attached to, and prevent the overt identification of, students who are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals.

      6. All HCPSS employees will follow HCPSS Policy 4200 Meal Charges.

      7. At the beginning of each school year, and whenever there is a change in eligibility criteria for free and reduced-price meals, the HCPSS will send communication to families, including the application form for free and reduced-price meals. The communication will include how the household may apply/qualify for benefits.

    3. Other Foods and Beverages

      1. A la carte and snack/dessert items sold by the HCPSS Food and Nutrition Service will be reviewed by HCPSS Food and Nutrition Service employees and meet the USDA Smart Snacks guidelines and Maryland Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in School and guidelines from the IOM Nutrition Standards. Nutritional information will be posted on the HCPSS School Meals website.

      2. School celebrations involving foods and beverages may be permitted by the principal no more than twelve times per year after the end of the last lunch period. Schools are encouraged to develop alternatives to the use of foods and beverages for celebrations.

      3. All foods and beverages sold in vending machines that are accessible to students during the school day will meet the USDA Smart Snacks guidelines and Maryland Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in School, and will meet the IOM Nutrition Standards.

      4. Clubs and organizations authorized to raise money on school property using order forms for foods and beverages to be consumed off of school property are encouraged to offer healthier options. Clubs and organizations are also encouraged to consider other fundraising activities that do not involve foods and beverages.

    4. Food and Beverage Advertising and Marketing in Schools

      1. The HCPSS is committed to providing a school environment that ensures opportunities for all students to practice healthy eating and physical activity behaviors throughout the school day while minimizing commercial distractions.

      2. The HCPSS will prohibit the marketing and advertising of non-nutritious foods and beverages through signage, vending machine fronts, logos, scoreboards, school supplies, advertisements in school publications, coupon or incentive programs, free giveaways, or other means.

      3. The HCPSS will prohibit marketing and advertising of all foods and beverages on the school campus that do not meet nutrition standards consistent with this policy.

      4. Any foods and beverages marketed or promoted to students on the school campus during the school day will meet the USDA Smart Snacks guidelines and Maryland Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in School and comply with established Board policy and administrative procedures. The HCPSS will comply with the IOM Nutrition Standards for these foods.

  5. Employee Health and Wellness

    1. The HCPSS highly values the health and well-being of every HCPSS employee and will plan and implement activities and programs that support personal efforts by employees to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

    2. The HCPSS will encourage and provide opportunities and programs related to employee wellness in collaboration with community partners, healthcare providers and other agencies.

    3. All HCPSS employees are encouraged to model healthful eating and physical activity.

IV. Responsibilities

  1. The Superintendent/designee will provide an annual report on the implementation of the policy.

  2. The Superintendent/designee will ensure that any subsequent changes to this policy are reported to the MSDE.

  3. The Superintendent/designee will develop, implement and monitor a process for the development and review of the HCPSS’s curriculum and assessment programs that complies with state and local requirements and provides sufficient academic rigor for students.

  4. The Superintendent/designee will provide for annual notification of this policy and procedures to HCPSS employees, students, parents, and the community.

  5. The Superintendent/designee will review this policy at least every three years and recommend it for revision as necessary.

  6. The Superintendent/designee will ensure that opportunities for physical activity are provided during the school day in accordance with this policy.

  7. The Superintendent/designee will oversee school implementation and compliance with this policy, including:

    1. Provide technical assistance and support to assist schools with implementation of the policy and improve programming functions.

    2. Ensure schools are offered support services through various departments including the HCPSS Food and Nutrition Service, Physical Education, and Health and Physical Education, to ensure the full implementation of this policy.

    3. Establish a process for identifying and distributing resources made available by qualified agencies and community organizations for the purpose of collaborating with schools and community organizations such as Boosters, the Community Advisory Council (CAC), and the PTA Council of Howard County (PTACHC) to enhance implementation of this policy.

    4. Establish a process to gather feedback from individual schools, community partners, students, and parents on the implementation of the policy.

    5. Conduct periodic evaluations and report on systemwide and individual schools’ compliance with the policy.

    6. Conduct systemwide review and assessment of this policy on its effectiveness and, based on this assessment, propose policy revisions at least every three years.

    7. Retain records documenting compliance with the requirements of HCPSS Policy 9090 Wellness Through Nutrition and Physical Activity.

  8. Each school principal will ensure that a School Wellness Team is formed annually to spearhead health and wellness initiatives at the school that are in compliance with this policy. The principal will establish a system to annually identify School Wellness Team members which may include parents/guardians, teachers of physical education, classroom teachers, school nurses/assistants, students, school administrators, and community health and wellness partners.

  9. Each school principal will annually designate a school employee to serve as the School Wellness Champion who will:

    1. Lead and coordinate their school’s efforts to increase healthy eating and physical activity for students.

    2. Serve as the liaison for their respective school’s policy implementation and reporting.

    3. Establish and lead a School Wellness Team that develops goals, strategies, and initiatives for student health, wellness, and physical activity during the school year.

  10. Each school principal will provide annual updates to the Superintendent/designee regarding the school’s health and wellness initiatives and the school’s implementation of this policy.

  11. The Howard County School Health Council, which serves in an advisory capacity, will provide feedback annually to the Board.

  12. The HCPSS Food and Nutrition Service Office and school principals will ensure that all foods and beverages made available to students in schools or through school-sponsored events until the end of the school day, are in compliance with this policy.

  13. Professional development on the implementation of this policy will be provided annually as part of the regular professional development program for employees.

V. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent is authorized to develop procedures for the implementation of this policy.

VI. Definitions

Within the context of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. A La Carte – Individually priced food items, provided by HCPSS Food and Nutrition Services, which are available for sale in the school dining center that are not part of the reimbursable meal served through the school meal programs.

  2. Celebrations – Special events or activities occurring in a classroom or elsewhere at school whether before, during or after the school day.

  3. Competitive Foods – Those foods and beverages, which are sold outside of federally reimbursable school meals programs during lunch periods. This includes items sold a la carte from the cafeteria from vending machines and in school stores.

  4. Comprehensive School Health Education – A sequential curriculum that addresses the physical, emotional, and social dimensions of health; develops knowledge, attitudes, and skills regarding health; and is tailored to the developmental level of children.

  5. Coordinated School Health – A systematic approach to improving the health and well-being of all students so they can fully participate and be successful in school.

    Coordinated school health typically integrates health promotion efforts across eight interrelated components that already exist to some extent in most schools. These components include health education, physical education, health services, nutrition services, counseling, psychological and social services, healthy and safe school environments, employee wellness, and family and community involvement.

  6. Curriculum – The prescribed elements of programs and courses which state clearly and specifically what students are expected to know and be able to do, how well they will be able to do it, how they will meet the learning objectives, and by what means they will be assessed.

  7. Extracurricular Activities – Activities available to students beyond the regular school day which are voluntary and are not required for satisfactory completion of a particular class.

  8. Fundraising Activity – Any activity or event held by the school system, individual schools, or a school-sponsored organization that sells goods or services in order to generate money for the school system as well as any activity or event advertised as intended to raise revenue on behalf of a charitable cause.

  9. Health Literacy – The degree to which individuals obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services to make informed health decisions.

  10. Healthy Eating Behavior – The federal recommendations for meals, such as making one’s plate half fruits and vegetables, eliminating sugary drinks, and limiting empty calories.

  11. Howard County School Health Council (HCSHC) – An advisory group, which identifies needs, reviews practices, programs and policies, and generally provides advice to the HCPSS and the Howard County Health Department (HCHD) on aspects of child health as defined by the coordinated school health approach.

  12. Institute of Medicine (IOM) Nutrition Standards – Recommendations regarding appropriate nutritional guidelines for consumption of foods at schools.

  13. Interscholastic Athletics – Approved athletic competition between or among two or more high schools.

  14. Intramural Program – An extracurricular activity program within a school that provides students an opportunity to participate in activities that are an extension of the physical education program.

  15. Nutrition Education – Educational strategies that are part of comprehensive health education and a planned, sequential, prekindergarten-grade 12 curriculum or supplemental education program that addresses the physical, mental, emotional, and social dimensions of health related to nutrition.

  16. Physical Activity – A behavior consisting of bodily movement that requires energy expenditure above the normal physiological (muscular, cardio respiratory) requirements of a typical school say.

  17. Physical Education – A sequential curriculum that teaches skills, knowledge, and attitudes which are needed to establish and lead a physically active life.

  18. Recess – Regularly scheduled periods within the school day for unstructured physical activity and play.

  19. School Day – The period from midnight (12:01 a.m.) before to 30 minutes after the dismissal bell for students.

  20. Smart Snacks in School – New Competitive Foods standards issued as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. These standards were formerly known as Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value.

  21. Wellness – The overall positive state of psychological, social, spiritual, intellectual, environmental and physical well-being. Attaining this contributes to an individual reaching his/her fullest potential and ideal health status.

VII. References

Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010” (Sec. 204 of Public Law 111-296) 124 Stat. 3183 Code of Federal Regulations, as amended Local School Wellness Policy Implementation, 7 C.F.R. Parts 210 and 220 (2016) National School Lunch Act, Public Law 79-396, Section 9 amended Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, Public Law 108-265, Section 204 4. U.S. Code §1758b - Local school wellness policy 7.CFR 210.10 - Meal requirements for lunches and requirements for afterschool snacks 7.CFR 210-11, Foods of Nutritional Value 7.CFR 220.12, Competitive Food Services 7.CFR 210.31 - Local school wellness policy COMAR 13A.04.13 Maryland State Physical Education Curriculum COMAR 13A.04.13.01 Requirements for Physical Education Instructional Programs for Grades K-12 COMAR 13A.04.18 Program in Comprehensive Health Education COMAR 13A.05.05 Programs of Pupil Services COMAR 13A.05.05.05-.15 Regulations for School Health Services COMAR 13A.06.03 Interscholastic Athletics in the State COMAR 13A.06.04 Corollary Athletic Programs Maryland State Student Health Promotion Act of 2005 Fitness and Equity Act 2008

C. Relevant Data Sources

  • Policy 9090 Wellness Through Nutrition and Physical Activity Annual Reports Howard County Public Schools – Maryland Wellness Policies and Practice Project

  • Lifetime Fitness Course Assessment

  • Trend data for Fitnessgram

  • Maryland Youth Tobacco and Risk Behavior Survey (CDC)

  • Maryland Hunger Solutions – School Breakfast in Maryland’s Counties Policy Brief

  • Maryland Hunger Solutions – The Federal Nutrition Programs in Howard County Report

  • Team Nutrition: Local Wellness Policy Resources CDC Healthy Schools – Local School Wellness Policy

D. Other

  • HCPSS Student Code of Conduct

  • Howard County Health Department Regulations

  • Institute of Medicine (IOM) Nutrition Standards

  • Health Department Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP)

  • Maryland State Department of Education, School and Community Branch, Management and Operations Memorandum (MOM) #12

  • USDA Regulations for Child Nutrition Programs

  • USDA Memorandum on Wellness Policies

  • USDA Guide to Smart Snacks in School (2016)

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health Local School Wellness Policy

  • USDA Professional Standards for State and Local School Nutrition Programs (2015)

  • USDA. School Nutrition Environment and Wellness Resources

  • U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans

  • WellSAT 3.0: Wellness School Assessment Tool

VIII. History

ADOPTED: March 23, 2006



  • September 17, 2015

  • April 7, 2022


  • July 1, 2006

  • October 11, 2007

  • May 13, 2010

  • April 10, 2014

  • January 13, 2022

EFFECTIVE: April 7, 2022

Policy History Key

  • Adopted-Original date the Board took action to approve a policy
  • Reviewed-The date the status of a policy was assessed by the Superintendent’s Standing Policy Group
  • Modified-The date the Board took action to alter a policy that based on the recommendation of the Superintendent/designee did not require a comprehensive examination
  • Revised-The date the Board took action on a that policy based on the recommendation of the Superintendent/designee needed a comprehensive examination
  • Effective-The date a policy is implemented throughout the HCPSS, typically July 1 following Board action.