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Camden City Public Schools’ Adopt Comprehensive Wellness Policy

November 27, 2012 | Camden, Community News

Expect significant changes to promote student health now that the Camden City Public Schools have adopted a comprehensive wellness policy. School Board President Kathryn Blackshear says the policy will change the way schools feed children and get them engaged in active play.

Approved by the Camden Board of Education on November 27, 2012, the policy focuses on making healthy eating, nutrition education, and physical activity an integral part of the day in the city’s 26 public schools. With the wellness policy as the framework, the Camden Board of Education hopes to help reduce obesity rates among Camden children and youths.

“The board is committed to creating a healthy environment,” said Blackshear, “and the school district will engage students, parents, teachers, food service professionals, health professionals, and members of the community in raising awareness about wellness and integrating nutrition and physical activity into the lives of our children.”

Interim Superintendent Reuben F. Mills underscored the importance of a healthy school environment as a key influence in a child’s development. “It’s not just about what takes place in the classroom,” Mills said. “The wellness policy is about making overall student health a priority by offering healthy foods to students and encouraging them to be active.”

The policy addresses the nutritional quality of foods and beverages served for breakfast, lunch and snacks. It further stipulates guidelines for food brought into the school from outside for school-sponsored activities, including fund raising, celebrations, athletic events, dances, and performances. The policy also supplements existing physical education programs by recommending additional opportunities for physical activity throughout the school day, as well as safe routes to school, staff wellness initiatives, and outreach to parents.

NJPHK-Camden worked closely with the Board of Education, the superintendent’s administrative staff, ARAMARK (Camden district’s food service provider) and Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Camden County to help draft the policy. “This policy is a bold step that will impact thousands of Camden’s students,” said Valeria Galarza, NJPHK-Camden project manager. “All of the partners came together with a tremendous spirit of cooperation to develop this policy. We have to keep that spirit alive as we work together to put this written commitment into practice.”

District-wide implementation of the policy is planned for September 2013. Each school will form its own wellness committee comprising school and community representatives who will help implement and monitor the policy provisions.

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