Focus Areas

Schools: Partners in wellness

Schools play an important role in keeping kids well-fed and active.

Providing nutritious food, clean water and active play through the school day helps keep our kids growing – and learning – well into the future.


The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 requires all local educational agencies participating in federal child-nutrition programs to establish and implement — for all schools under their jurisdictions — local school-wellness policies to promote sound nutrition, student health, childhood-obesity reduction and nutritional transparency.

The purpose of this national legislation is to address children’s nutritional needs, and to ensure that more kids from all income levels adopt the kind of healthful eating habits and lifestyles that will enable them to live longer, more productive lives. To accomplish this goal, the Act raises nutritional standards, increases the number of school meals to be served, increases reimbursement rates to school districts and makes it easier for children and families to qualify to receive free or reduced-cost student meals.

And don’t forget: Free, clean and plentiful on-campus drinking water is also part of the Act!


Active play is essential to the optimal physical development and overall health of young children. Physical activity embedded throughout the school day promotes children’s ability to attend to, learn and regulate their emotional responses. Active physical play not only enhances the body’s physiological functions such as physical fitness, it also promotes optimal brain chemistry for self-regulation and enhances learning readiness. As such, it should be fully integrated into the regular school day.

An additional activity effort — Fire Up Your Feet — provides a full range of age-appropriate resources and educational materials to encourage physical activity to, from and at schools, with simple ways to track activity, earn awards, fundraise in a healthy way and stay motivated in a fun and friendly environment. Hosted by Kaiser Permanente, Safe Routes to School National Partnership and National PTA, the program inspires families, students and teachers to get moving raising funds to invest in items like gym equipment, bike racks and many other options to boost physical activity at our own schools. Find out more and get fired up today!


All school districts participating in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program must have local wellness policies with the goal of promoting better nutrition, physical activity and wellness. Wellness Councils include parents, students, the school food authority, school board, school administrators and the public, and work to develop and implement effective policies for their district. You can find out more about these important roles and requirements through the California Local School Wellness Policy Collaborative, of which California State PTA is a member.

We encourage all school districts to establish and maintain coordinated programs addressing all components of school health, including mental-health services and school-health services. Get the latest on these issues and get involved with our email alerts, and stay in touch your local PTA for the latest information on health issues and programs at your school.