USDA’s Local Wellness Policy Triennial Assessment Questions & Answers:
How often must LEAs conduct assessments of schools’ compliance with the local school wellness policy?
At a minimum, assessments must be conducted once every three years as described in 7 CFR 210.31(e); this is referred to as the triennial assessment. This assessment is
separate from the Administrative Review conducted by the State agency. The local school wellness policy must be updated and in compliance with the final rule by June 30, 2017.
Therefore, the first triennial assessment must be completed by June 30, 2020.
Who is responsible for conducting the assessments?
LEAs must designate at least one LEA or school official(s) as responsible for determining the extent to which each school under their jurisdiction is in compliance with their wellness
policies (7 CFR 210.31(e)(1)).
In addition to the official(s) identified, other stakeholders must be permitted to be involved in the review process as described in 7 CFR 210.31(d)(1). However, LEAs have discretion
in how they implement this requirement since each LEA is best suited to determine the distinctive needs of the community it serves. LEAs are also encouraged to identify a wellness
champion at each school that would assist with the implementation and monitoring of the policy at the school level.
What must be included in the triennial assessment?
The LEA must develop a triennial assessment report that describes the extent to which its schools comply with the local school wellness policy, the extent to which the local policy
aligns with model policies, and a description of progress towards attaining policy goals as described in 7 CFR 210.31(e)(2). There is local discretion on the format of the report. This
report must be made available to the public (7 CFR 210.31(d)(3)).
What tools should LEAs use to assess implementation and compliance with the local school wellness policy?
The LEA has the flexibility to develop tools that will assess compliance with the specific components of their local school wellness policy. Some State agencies and partner
organizations have developed tools that LEAs can adapt to meet their needs. Example tools can be found at the “School Nutrition Environment and Wellness Resources” website at
https://healthymeals.fns.usda.gov/local-wellness-policy-resources/local-school-wellnesspolicy-process/assessment-needs-assessment. In addition, the LEA must document when
and how they evaluated their policy. For example, an agenda or attendance sheet could be used as documentation that the local school wellness policy was evaluated at a
How often does the LEA have to update the policy?
USDA does not specify the frequency of updates to the local school wellness policy, as the need to update will vary based on the content and structure of the policy. However, it is
recommended that the policy is updated, at a minimum, after conducting the triennial assessments (7 CFR 210.31(e)(3)). LEAs are also required to annually notify the public about
the content of the local school wellness policy and any updates to the policy as stated in 7 CFR 210.31(d)(2).
How should LEAs compare their policies to model policies?
The responsibility for developing a local school wellness policy was placed at the LEA level so that each LEA has the flexibility to customize their own policy based on their own
unique circumstances. However, at a minimum, LEAs must compare their policy against model policies during the triennial assessment (7 CFR 210.31(e)(2)(ii)). The Alliance for a
Healthier Generation, in conjunction with USDA, developed a model local school wellness policy template that may be used for this comparison:
Does the LEA need to do a triennial assessment of all the schools under its jurisdiction, or does each school do its own triennial assessment and
report back to the LEA?
The LEA is responsible for ensuring that a triennial assessment of all the schools under its jurisdiction has been conducted. The LEA may conduct the triennial assessment on behalf
of each participating school under its jurisdiction or may allow each school to conduct its own assessment.