(Aug. 25) The top 100 school districts have adopted wellness policies that are generally more ambitious than smaller or medium-sized school districts, according to one top school foodservice observer.

“The big question (on wellness policies) will be implementation,” said Erik Peterson, director of public awareness for the Alexandria, Va.-based School Nutrition Association.

He said community involvement in creating the wellness policies could help ensure that they do more than just collect dust.

Fulfilling one mandate of the child nutrition reauthorization legislation of 2004, U.S. school districts were required to complete wellness policies by the start of the 2006-2007 school year.

Although the top 100 school districts make up less than 1% of all the school districts in the nation, they account for 16% of the schools, 21% of the teachers, and 23% of the nation’s K-12 students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Peterson said the School Nutrition Association’s analysis of the wellness policies from the top 100 schools showed that they generally sought to do more than medium or small sized schools.

TOP DISTRICTS

Among the top 100 school districts, he said Seattle seems particularly aggressive about increasing the presence of fruits and vegetables — including locally grown and organic produce — on schools menus.

Peterson said some school districts were moving immediately to remove vending machines selling junk food from schools, while other districts are taking an incremental approach, with a certain percentage of junk food removed each year.

The association’s analysis showed that 98.7% of the top 100 districts addressed school meal nutrition standards, 94.9% looked for nutrition standards for a la carte foods and beverages, and 92% considered standards for foods and beverages available in vending machines.