Wellness Policies: Physical Activity & Nutrition

Approved by School Committee on May 7, 2012

In 2010, Congress passed the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act, the federal law funding school "nutrition programs." The law requires all school districts receiving federal funds for school meals to establish a wellness policy.

The health and well being of the children in Braintree Public Schools have traditionally been addressed in several ways. The Braintree Public Schools Strategic Plan for 2010 to 2015 includes the belief that "Students should acquire the knowledge, skills and motivation necessary to achieve and maintain optimum health and lifelong fitness." Similarly, the Massachusetts Curriculum Health Framework Core Concept addresses wellness through health literacy, self-management skills, and health promotion. Comprehensive health education teaches fundamental health concepts, promotes habits and conduct that enhance health and wellness, and guides efforts to build healthy families, relationships, schools and communities. The goals of BPS Strategic Plan and the Health Curriculum Framework are central to the development of the Braintree Public Schools Wellness Policy.

This policy has been developed to meet the requirement and is based on the following:

  • Children need access to healthful foods and opportunities to be physically active in order to grow, learn, and thrive
  • Children need to understand the implication of healthy habits for self and society
  • Good health fosters student attendance and education
  • Obesity rates have doubled in children and tripled in adolescents over the last two decades, and physical inactivity and excessive calorie intake are the predominant causes of obesity
  • Heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes are responsible for two-thirds of deaths in the United States, and major risk factors for those diseases, including unhealthy eating habits, physical inactivity, and obesity, often are established in childhood

The Braintree Public School District is committed to providing school environments that promote and protect children's health, well-being, and ability to learn by supporting healthy eating and physical activity. Therefore, it is the policy of the Braintree Public School District that:

  • The Braintree Alliance for Safe and healthy Youth will engage students, parents, teachers, food service professionals, health professionals, and other interested community members in developing, implementing, monitoring, and reviewing this policy.
  • All students in grades Kindergarten through 12 will have opportunities, support, and encouragement to be physically active on a regular basis.
  • Foods and beverages sold or served at school will meet the nutrition recommendations of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, will comply with all State and Federal laws and will adhere to food safety and security guidelines.
  • A Registered Dietician will provide students with access to a variety of affordable, nutritious, and appealing foods that meet the health and nutrition needs of students; will accommodate the religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity of the student body in meal planning; and will provide clean, safe, and pleasant settings.
  • All schools in our district will participate in available federal school meal programs, including the School Breakfast Program, and the National School Lunch Program. An afternoon snack program is available at Braintree High School.
  • Schools will provide nutrition education and physical education to foster lifelong habits of healthy eating and physical activity, and will establish linkages between health education and school meal programs, and with related community services.

To Achieve These Policy Goals:

I. Braintree Alliance for Safe & Healthy Youth

The Braintree Alliance for Safe and Healthy Youth will develop, implement, monitor, review, and, as necessary, revise the district wellness policy.

II. Nutritional Quality of Foods & Beverages Sold & Served on Campus

School Meals
Meals served through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs will:

  • Be appealing and attractive to children
  • Be served in clean and pleasant settings
  • Meet, at a minimum, nutrition requirements established by local, state, and federal statutes and regulations
  • Offer a variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Offer low fat and/or fat free milk daily
  • Offer a variety of bread and bread products, including an assortment of whole grain bread products

To ensure that all children have breakfast, either at home or at school, in order to meet their nutritional needs and enhance their ability to learn:

  • Braintree Public Schools will operate the School Breakfast Program
  • The Food Services Director will notify parents and students of the availability of the School Breakfast Program
  • Schools will reinforce the importance of a healthy breakfast through newsletter articles, take-home materials, or other means provided from the food services department

Free & Reduced-Priced Meals
The Director of Food Services will mail applications to all families each August. Braintree Public Schools will make every effort to eliminate any social stigma attached to, and prevent the overt identification of, students who are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals.

Meal Times and Scheduling
Braintree Public Schools:

  • Will provide students with at least 10 minutes to eat after sitting down for breakfast and 20 minutes after sitting down for lunch (to the extent possible)
  • Will schedule lunch periods between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
  • Will not schedule tutoring, club, or organizational meetings or activities during mealtimes, unless students may eat during such activities
  • To the extent possible, will schedule lunch periods in elementary schools to follow recess periods
  • To the extent possible, will schedule physical education classes to be held before lunch or at least 20 minutes after the consumption of lunch

Qualifications of School Food Service Staff
A Registered Dietician will administer the school meal program. As part of the school district's responsibility to operate a food service program, we will provide continuing professional development for all nutrition professionals in schools. Staff development programs should include appropriate certification and/or training programs for the registered dietician, school nutrition managers, and cafeteria workers, according to their levels of responsibility.

Sharing of Foods & Beverages
Braintree Public School staff will discourage students from sharing their foods or beverages with one another during meal or snack times, given concerns about allergies and other restrictions on some children's diets.

Nutrition Information
For all food and food products made available on campus is readily available for review. The Food Services Department may review all food and beverage items sold or provided to students.

À La Carte & Competitive Foods
In accordance with the Massachusetts School Nutrition Law, all foods sold or provided to students outside of the National School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program (also known as competitive foods, see definitions below) will meet the standards outlined below. The standards will apply from 30 minutes before the beginning of the school day to 30 minutes after the end of the school day, with the exception of vending machines which shall comply with these standards at all times.

Competitive foods are defined as foods and beverages sold or provided in:

  • Booster sales
  • Concession stands
  • Fundraising activities
  • School buildings, including classrooms and hallways
  • School cafeterias offered as à la carte items
  • School snack bars
  • School stores
  • School-sponsored or school-related events
  • Vending machines (including the staff/faculty room)
  • Any other location on school property

This applies to classroom incentives, classroom parties, celebrations (birthdays, holidays, etc.) during the school day including 30 minutes before the beginning of the school day to 30 minutes after the end of the school day. This does NOT apply to an individual's snack or lunch for self consumption. Snacks or foods brought into the school building for distribution to multiple students must comply with the standards below. For more information about the standards contact the director of Food and Nutrition services Megan Ahrenholz 781-380-0144 or send an email.

  1. Beverages
  2. Food
  3. Food & Beverages
  4. Sugar


  • 100% fruit or vegetable juice
  • No added sugar
  • Portion Limit: 4 ounces (no calorie limit)

Milk & Milk Substitutes

  • 8-ounce portion limit
  • Flavored milk and milk substitutes contain no more than 22 grams of sugar per 8 ounce
  • Must be 1% or Fat Free


Contains no added sugar, sweeteners or artificial sweeteners, but may contain natural flavorings and/or carbonation.

To comply with the requirements of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and the Massachusetts Act Relative to School Nutrition, water will be made available to all students during the school day without charge. Each Braintree Public School will have water fountains available for students to consume water. In schools which do not have a fountain inside or immediately outside the cafeteria, water will be provided in cups at no charge, as needed.

Snacks sold or provided by any employee of Braintree Public Schools or other enrichment program from 30 minutes before the beginning of the school day to 30 minutes after the end of the school day will meet the nutrition standards outlined above. This includes classroom incentives, classroom parties and celebrations. It is not necessary to involve food to reward a class or student. Braintree Public School wants to be consistent in promoting a healthy environment, implementing the standards during the entire school day prevents sending mix messages.

Schools will assess if and when to offer time for snack consumption based on timing of school meals, children's nutritional needs, children's ages, and other considerations. At the beginning of the school year the district will disseminate an "A-List" of healthful snack items to teachers, after-school program personnel, and parents/guardians. The "A-List" is a list of products that meet the Massachusetts Action for Healthy Kids' and Massachusetts Competitive Food and Beverage Standards. The list will include suggestions for snacks that will make a positive contribution to children's diets and health, with an emphasis on serving fruits and vegetables as the primary snacks and water as the primary beverage. The "A-List" will be available on the Braintree Public Schools website under the School Lunch Program link, in all school cafeterias, and on all individual schools websites.

Food Safety & Food Security
All foods made available through the food services department will comply with state and local food safety and sanitation regulations. Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans and guidelines are implemented to prevent foodborne illness in schools. For the safety and security of the food and facility, access to the food services operations area are limited to Food Services Staff and authorized personnel.

III. Nutrition & Physical Activity Promotion

Nutrition Education and Promotion. The Braintree Public School District aims to teach, encourage, and support healthy eating by students through:

  • Nutrition education will be integrated into the physical education, and health education curriculum
  • Promoting fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, healthy food preparation methods, and health-enhancing nutrition practices
  • Emphasizing caloric balance between food intake and energy expenditure (physical activity/exercise)
  • Linking with school meal programs, other school foods, and nutrition-related community services
  • Promotion of media literacy in nutrition

Integrating Physical Activity into the Classroom Setting

  • Classroom health education will complement physical education by reinforcing the knowledge and self-management skills needed to maintain a physically-active lifestyle and to reduce time spent on sedentary activities, such as watching television
  • Opportunities for physical activity will be incorporated into other subject lessons as possible

Communications with Parents
The Braintree Public School district will support parents'/guardians' efforts to provide a healthy diet and daily physical activity for their children. The Food Service director will provide nutrient analyses of school menus and will offer an explanation of the analysis upon request.

The physical education department with permission from building principal will provide information about physical education and other school-based physical activity opportunities before, during, and after the school day; and support parents'/guardians' efforts to provide their children with opportunities to be physically active outside of school. Such supports will include sharing information about physical activity and physical education through school newsletters, or other take-home materials, special events, or physical education homework.

Staff Wellness
The Braintree Public School District highly values the health and well-being of every staff member. Staff members are encouraged to use the physical fitness centers located at Braintree High School, East Middle School and South Middle School before and/or after school hours.

IV. Physical Activity Opportunities & Physical Education

Physical Education (P.E.) Kindergarten to 12
All students in grades K-12, including students with disabilities, special health-care needs, and in alternative educational programs, will participate in physical education classes equivalent to:

  • Kindergarten: One 30 minute period per week
  • Full Day Kindergarten: Two 30 minute periods per week
  • Grades 1 and 2: Two 30 minute periods per week
  • Grades 3 and 4: Two 35 minute periods per week
  • Grade 5: Two 40 minute periods per week
  • Grades 6 to 8: Three 45 minutes periods per six-day cycle
  • Grades 9 to12: Two 49 minute periods per seven-day cycle

A certified physical education teacher will teach all physical education classes. Physical education classes will be an environment where students learn, practice and are assessed on developmentally appropriate motor skills, social skills, and knowledge. Physical education classes will include instruction in individual activities as well as competitive and non-competitive team sports to encourage life-long physical activity. Adequate equipment will be available for all students to participate in physical education classes. Physical activity facilities on school grounds will be safe. Physical education classes will provide a physical and social environment that encourages safe and enjoyable activities for all students. 

In collaboration with the nursing department Body Mass Index (BMI) results will be sent home to students in grades 1, 4, 7 and 10 in the fall informing parents/guardians of their child's height, weight, body mass index, and 4th-grade students will receive a Fitnessgram profile. Information will be provided to families to help them incorporate physical activity into their lives through the individual school newsletters.

Daily Recess
All elementary school students will have daily-supervised recess, preferably outdoors, during which schools should encourage, verbally and through the provision of space and equipment, moderate to vigorous physical activity. To the extent possible, schools will endeavor to schedule recess prior to lunch since research indicated that physical activity prior to lunch can increase the nutrient intake and reduce food waste.

Physical Activity Opportunities Before & After School
The middle and high schools will offer extracurricular physical activity programs, such as physical activity clubs or intramural programs. The high school, and middle schools as appropriate will offer interscholastic sports programs. Braintree Public Schools will offer a range of activities that meet the needs, interests, and abilities of all students, including boys, girls, students with disabilities, and students with special health-care needs.

Use of School Facilities Outside of School Hours
The Braintree Public School facilities are available to community agencies and organizations after the school day, on weekends, and during school vacations. Any school employees, person, groups or organization that uses BPS facilities and plans to serve food must submit a temporary food permit application along with a building permit, not later than one week prior to the event. In addition, all bake sales will follow the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Braintree Board of Health regulations as described in M.G.L. c94, s1. Contact the building principal to obtain a building permit, a temporary food permit application and for information on rental of facilities.

Other School-Based Activities
Support for the health of all students is demonstrated by:

  • In accordance with Massachusetts State Regulations, 105 CMR 20000, health screenings will be conducted as follows:
    • Hearing screening: will occur in the year of school entry and annually through grade 3 (or by age 9 in the case of ungraded classrooms), once in grades 6 through 8 (ages 12 through 14 in the case of ungraded classrooms), and once in grades 9 through 12 (ages 15 through 18 in the case of ungraded classrooms)
    • Vision screening: will occur in the year of school entry and annually through grade 5 (or by age 9 in the case of ungraded classrooms), once in grades 6 through 8 (ages 12 through 14 in the case of ungraded classrooms), and once in grades 9 through 12 (ages 15 through 18 in the case of ungraded classrooms)
    • Postural screening: will occur annually in grades 5 through 9 (ages 11 to 15 in the case of ungraded classrooms)
    • Height, Weight, and BMI (Body Mass Index) screening will occur in grades 1, 4, 7 and 10. Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines are followed during all health screenings; to the extent possible, an annual health fair for grade 11
  • Assisting children who do not have health insurance by linking parents with Mass Health or the Children's Medical Security Plan.

V. Monitoring & Policy Review

Monitoring & Review
The superintendent or designee will ensure compliance with this district-wide wellness policy. In each school, the principal or designee will ensure compliance with those policies in his/her school and will report on the school's compliance to the school district superintendent or designee. School food service staff, at the school or district level, will ensure compliance with nutrition policies within school food service areas and will report on this matter to the business manager. The Physical Education Director will monitor compliance with the physical activity portion of the policy.

The superintendent or designee will develop a summary report every three years on district-wide compliance with the district's established nutrition and physical activity wellness policies, based on input from schools within the district. That report will be provided to the school board and also distributed to all school improvement councils as well as the Braintree Alliance for Safe and Healthy Youth, parent/teacher organizations, school principals, and school health services personnel in the district.

Every three years, the school district will review the wellness policy including the nutrition and physical education policies and program elements. The district will, as necessary, revise the wellness policy and develop work plans to facilitate their implementation.