Each year, a portion of the Spencer school district's policies are reviewed by the board in a rotation that allows the entire policy to be updated every three years.
But even though the 500-series of documents - which includes the wellness policy - was scheduled to be reviewed this year, the board moved this specific policy up and approved updates at the most recent board meeting.
"We want the students and staff to be healthy and to lead healthy lifestyles," Superintendent Terry Hemann said.
The new policy includes several changes as required by updated state and federal guidelines, specifically the Healthy Kids Act. A few changes were also made to help Spencer schools become Blue Zones certified.
"This updated policy came from a team of people, including students, parents, teachers, administrators school board members," said Alison Simpson, Blue Zones program director. "We took general feedback from the community in July, through focus groups. We wanted to best address the needs and desires of the community."
The updated policy, which will become enacted immediately, will promote "proper dietary habits contributing to students' health status and academic performance."
One goal of the policy is to "make every effort to eliminate any social stigma to, and prevent the overt identification of, students who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals."
One step to eliminating this stigma, Simpson noted at the most recent school board meeting, is encouraging classrooms to celebrate birthdays with a fun activity instead of with a birthday treat.
"When a student can't have a snack for the whole class, the teacher or administration fills the gap," Simpson said. "When you add the rising level of allergies and diabetes, there are always kids singled out with snacks."
In addition to updating nutrition guidelines, the policy also works to update physical activity.
"We're encouraging kids to walk to school, especially with the Walking School Buses," Hemann said.
He continued, "It's our job to educate children on healthy choices and lifestyles."