Lessons from Pennsylvania's Mixed Response to Federal School Wellness Law

Federal legislation aimed at tackling the nation’s soaring childhood obesity rate through changes to school meals and nutrition and wellness programs has met with mixed results.

An examination of Pennsylvania’s response to the Child Nutrition and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Reauthorization Act of 2004, one of the most comprehensive state responses, found improvements to the nutritional quality of foods offered à la carte in conjunction with school meal programs. However, multiple weaknesses remain. Consistent wellness policy implementation steps were not followed, and there was inadequate statewide enforcement. Despite this, Pennsylvania can offer lessons for other states in moving forward with programs to promote good nutrition and wellness.