Tips for Coding:


Can I still access WellSAT 2.0?

Yes, you can still access the policies you previously coded using 2.0 and code new policies using 2.0. After you log on, you will go to the page, "Complete a new version 3.0 wellness policy assessment." At the very bottom of that page, there is a button that says, "Switch to WellSAT 2.0 policies." This will take you to a page where you can complete a new version 2.0 policy and access your previously coded policies. 

Where can I find the USDA wellness policy final rule?

The USDA issued a wellness policy final rule and local education agencies were required to fully comply by June 30, 2017. More information can be found here:

Why are my WellSAT 3.0 scores lower than my previous WellSAT scores?

National attention to school wellness has grown tremendously since the launch of the original WellSAT in 2010 and schools are being held to a higher standard than ever before. With the HHFKA the nation stepped up its commitment to safeguarding the health of school children. The WellSAT 3.0 reflects new USDA school wellness requirements and current best practices in all areas of school wellness. Don’t be surprised if you start off with lower scores than you achieved working with the first or second versions of the WellSAT. 

How long will this assessment take me?

First time users can expect to spend approximately 45 minutes scoring a wellness policy; however, users who score more than one policy and become familiar with scoring instructions typically complete the survey in approximately 30 minutes.    

Will the survey "time out" if I take a break?

The assessment "times out" after leaving it inactive for one hour; however, your work will not be lost.  If your assessment has timed out, you will need to sign in again.  

Can I exit the survey and come back to it another time?

Yes! When you sign in to return to an existing survey, you will be taken to the page where you left off. 

Where can I find information on each state's fundraiser exemption policies?

State agencies may establish exemptions for infrequent school-sponsored fundraisers during which foods and beverages sold would not be required to meet Smart Snacks. The National Wellness Policy Study tracks state fundraiser exemption policies, available here:

What is a "competitive food?"

Section 3 addresses policies around "competitive foods."  Competitive foods are foods sold outside of USDA school meals. This includes food and beverages sold a la carte in the cafeteria, from vending machines or school stores and any other sources on school premises. Competitive foods are often referred to as "Smart Snacks in Schools"   

Where can I find the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards?

As of school year 2014-15, all foods and beverages sold outside of school meal programs during the school day are required to meet the USDA Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards. More information on Smart Snacks can be found here:

How should goal language be coded?

At times, an entire policy may be listed as a series of goals. In this case, each item would be coded only as "recommended/suggested," and not "required," because they are simply goals.

Example 1: The following would be coded as a 1. 

The wellness goals of [district name] are as follows:

  • to provide nutrition education to all students;
  • to offer physical activity breaks during the school day; and
  • to participate in the National School Lunch Program and ensure meals meet USDA nutrition standards.

If instead, a policy provides an overarching goal with additional action steps that must be followed, each action step will be coded as it is written.

Example 2: The following would be coded as a 2. 

The wellness goal of [district name] is to provide nutrition education that is fully integrated into the curriculum. We will:

  • provide a comprehensive nutrition education curriculum at all grade levels;
  • include nutrition education as part of math, reading, and other subject areas; and
  • train teachers to incorporate nutrition education into other lesson plans.


If you used the WellSAT 2.0 in the past and are interested in tracking changes in your wellness policy, a document with the WellSAT 2.0 can be found here.