The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and First Lady Michelle Obama have announced proposed guidelines for local school wellness policies. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 had mandated that the USDA set guidelines for what needed to be included in local school wellness policies in areas such as setting goals for nutrition education and physical activity, informing parents about content of the policy and implementation and periodically assessing progress and sharing updates as appropriate.

As part of local school wellness policies, the proposed guidelines would ensure that foods and beverages marketed to children in schools are consistent with the recently-released Smart Snacks in School standards.

"The idea here is simple—our classrooms should be healthy places where kids aren't bombarded with ads for junk food," says the First Lady. "Because when parents are working hard to teach their kids healthy habits at home, their work shouldn't be undone by unhealthy messages at school."

"The food marketing and local wellness standards proposed today support better health for our kids and echo the good work already taking place at home and in schools across the country," adds USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The new standards ensure that schools remain a safe place where kids can learn and where the school environment promotes healthy choices. USDA is committed to working closely with students, parents, school stakeholders and the food and beverage industries to implement the new guidelines and make the healthy choice, the easy choice for America's young people."

To help schools with the implementation of the school wellness policies, USDA has launched a new School Nutrition Environment and Wellness Resources website that includes sample wellness policy language for school districts and a dedicated page of resources for food marketing practices on the school campus.

These new resources are designed to complement a second announcement that highlights the nationwide expansion of a program that was piloted in 11 states with the goal of ensuring children who are in need of nutritious meals are receiving them. Beginning July 1, 2014, more than 22,000 schools across the country that serve primarily low-income students will be eligible to serve healthy free lunches and breakfasts to all students.

For more information, go to http://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/