How to Start a School Wellness Committee

Lead the charge to help your school community develop better health.

Alistair Berg / The Image Bank / Getty Images

School is a place for learning, and especially if you're the parent of a school-aged child, you know that learning is not at all limited to reading, writing, and arithmetic. Nor is it limited to the classroom. Kids are learning while they're on the playground and in the cafeteria, and at home too. A school wellness committee can help infuse a whole school community with healthy habits.

A school wellness committee is usually comprised of parents, staff, and sometimes students, and creates an array of programming to improve health, physical activity, and nutrition for kids and their families.

Here's How
  1. Recruit members. Talk with other parents and teachers at your child's school. Are they willing to help? Are they interested in this issue? It just takes a few creative, energetic people to get the ball rolling. "You need a champion—someone to get things started," says Lisa Hoffman, an exercise physiologist and the founder of a wellness council at her kids' elementary school in Brooklyn, New York.
  2. Get support from school administrators. Talk to the principal to get buy-in and information on next steps. Ideally, your committee's members will include as many representatives from your school community as possible: administrators, teachers (including physical education teachers and sports coaches), parents, students, cafeteria staff, recess supervisors and after-school care providers. They all play a role in helping kids and families live healthfully, at home and at school.
  3. Spread the word about your wellness committee. In many schools, the wellness group is a sub-committee or offshoot of the parent-teacher association. Connect with your association's leadership to discuss best ways to work together. Then place a blurb in the school or classroom newsletter, send out an email to parents, ask to speak at meetings and events.
  1. Plan your first meeting. Your school and/or school district should have a wellness policy in place (it's required for participation in federal school food programs). Reviewing this policy is a good starting point for your committee. How good is the policy? How effective is it? What could be improved? Does your district or parent-teacher group have any funding available to support wellness programs? Appoint someone on your wellness team to research sources of funding.
  1. Set goals for your wellness committee. Is your primary goal to share information with your school community? Do you expect to plan events (how many; what kind)? Are you trying to change policy (for example, lunch menus or guidelines about snacks in the classroom)?
  2. Get to work. Once you have people and goals in place, you're ready to get started!


  1. Bring a healthy snack to meetings. You'll set a good example and can taste-test foods to share with the larger school community.
  2. Look for partnerships with local businesses and organizations committed to wellness. These might include community colleges with students studying nutrition and fitness; farmers and farmer's markets; supermarkets and restaurants; garden centers, sports teams; physical therapy practices; fitness centers and gyms.
  3. Take notes as you work, so you can reproduce programs and events that worked and improve (or scrap) those that didn't. Keeping good records also helps your committee succeed even after founding members move on.

    What You Need:

    • Meeting place—ask your principal if you can meet at school, or see if your public library offers free meeting space
    • A way for committee members to communicate with each other, such as an email list or private Facebook group
    • A way to contact school students and parents, such as through a newsletter, school blog, or email list (create your own, or jump on an existing tool such as a principal's newsletter or parent-teacher organization blog).

    Continue Reading