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New Policy Would Root Out Junk Food at Santa Monica-Malibu Public Schools

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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

January 30, 2018 -- Updating its wellness policy, the Santa Monica-Malibu public school system is considering a proposal to root out junk food for students on campus that also recommends only healthy treats be allowed even during class parties and off-hours special events.

Although the district of about 11,000 students has long focused on healthy offerings for the breakfasts and lunches it serves, its existing guidelines need to be updated, as mandated by the State of California, a report to the school board said.

One goal is to meet or exceed state and federal nutrition guidelines for food served not only at meals, but also food in vending machines and school stores, as well as the eats offered at special events, classroom parties and campus fundraisers.

Additionally, school staff would “model healthy food and beverage choices for students,” the proposal said, and a registered dietitian will “oversee and consult regarding all nutrition-related activities available to students.”

The proposed rules are part of a wide-ranging revision of the current policy on student wellness, which is being developed by an ad hoc committee comprised of staff, parents and community members.

It goes to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) Board at its Thursday meeting.

The proposed new guidelines extend beyond healthy eating to also address other facets of wellness.

These include ensuring more physical activity for students and strengthening policies against violence of all types, including bullying, as well as a greater focus on issues such as the prevention of sexual assault in secondary grades.

Thursday’s meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. and is in the Malibu City Council Chambers, at 23825 Stuart Ranch Road.

It is preceded by a one-hour closed executive session of the board.

The wellness presentation before the board notes “the link between student health and learning and desires to provide a comprehensive program promoting healthy eating and physical activity for district students.

“The Superintendent or designee shall coordinate and align district efforts to support student wellness through health education, physical education and activity, health services, nutrition services, psychological and counseling services, and a safe and healthy school environment,” it said.

“In addition, the Superintendent or designee shall develop strategies for promoting staff wellness and for involving parents/guardians and the community in reinforcing students' understanding and appreciation of the importance of a healthy lifestyle,” the proposed policy said.

One in four students at the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) qualify for the free and reduced lunch program, the report said.

“It is crucial that the district provide high quality, nutritious and appealing food choices,” the committee wrote.

Among other goals is working with nearby businesses and organizations so the district can increase buying “locally sourced and sustainable food items.”

Another focus is access to free drinking water.

The goal is to designate “drinking water stations (‘hydration stations’)" at physical activity areas.


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