School of Public Policy Capstones

CREC Wellness Policy Evaluation: A School-Based Assessment of Implementation

Brian Greenleaf, University of Massachusetts - Amherst


In early 2010, the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) revised the Student Wellness Policy to include new and stronger language regarding the implementation and monitoring of the policy. However, The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, signed into law in December, 2010, expanded upon regulations regarding local wellness policies. The new regulations focused on increasing implementation and assessment, as well as requiring community input.

CREC is a unique organization that operates 18 magnet schools and seven student service programs which serve roughly 10,000 students from its 35 member school districts in Connecticut daily. Additionally, CREC magnet schools underwent a great expansion with 10 of the magnet school programs being starting in 2010 or after.

Using three surveys developed in collaboration with CREC staff, this study seeks to understand the implementation of the Wellness Policy in five categories: Physical Education; Nutritional Education; Nutrition Guidelines for School Meals; Administration of the School Meal Program; and Communication and Stakeholder Involvement. This type of study is significant, as a literature review revealed that previous research has only looked at implementation of Wellness Policies from a district level.

The data show agreement among school staff for many areas of the CREC Wellness Policy. However there was some disagreement around implementation of the Physical and Nutritional Education pieces, with significant difference correlating to Primary and Secondary schools. Furthermore, a majority of survey takers said that they had not been invited to participate in the periodic review and implementation of the Policy. However, over 90% stated they either would or might participate if asked.

In the end, this report makes five recommendations for the consideration of the CREC Wellness Committee and Executive Director: consider implementing new policy language with includes stronger and more specific goals, included stakeholders in discussions around the policy, review and revise Physical Education and Health curriculum and policies with teachers across grade levels, look for ways to increase sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices in school cafeterias, and finally develop a mechanism to ensure annual monitoring of the wellness policy goals and outcomes.