WellSpot Benchmarks for Colleges and Universities

Make Higher Education Healthier

Healthy Students and Employees Improve Your Bottom Line

Colleges and universities have a great opportunity to make the healthy choice the easy choice for students and staff by doing things like adopting a 100% tobacco-free campus policy, offering worksite wellness programming for staff and offering free or low-cost health and wellness resources to students.

By implementing changes to improve the health of your employees and students through our WellSpot Designation program, schools are equipped to play a role in positively impacting the health of the community. We support Louisiana colleges and universities by providing the resources and tools you need to encourage healthy habits like physical activity, healthy eating, stress management and quitting tobacco.

Colleges and universities that meet certain benchmarks can be designated as a Level 1, 2 or 3 WellSpot, with Level 1 being the highest.

Level 3

  • Tobacco-free policy
  • Three additional benchmarks of choice

Level 2

  • Tobacco-free policy
  • Five additional benchmarks of choice

Level 1

  • Tobacco-free policy
  • All benchmarks met
WellSpot Benchmarks for a Healthier College or University

Health Standards for Colleges & Universities

Well-Ahead is here to help educators and administrators be leaders by becoming a WellSpot. This helps ensure that the students you teach have a healthy environment to learn, while also positively impacting the health of your staff. When you implement these evidence-based benchmarks, you will improve the health of your staff and students and move Louisiana’s health forward!

By implementing a Tobacco-Free Policy you can reduce exposure to smoke and the danger it presents to your employees, students and visitors. 

A Tobacco-Free Policy prohibits the use of all forms of tobacco products on your campus, including parking lots and company vehicles. For properties that are leased, the policy must cover 25 feet from each entry point of the facility.

For sample policies and tips, visit the resources below.

Required Documentation:
Copy of policy

By providing your employees with the tools they need to geaux tobacco-free, you are helping communities across the state take a major step forward towards a healthier Louisiana. 

Tobacco cessation is a preventive service, and federal guidance suggests the following coverage:

  • Four sessions of individual, group and phone counseling
  • 90 days of all FDA-approved smoking cessation medications
  • Two quit attempts per year
  • No prior authorization for treatments
  • No cost-sharing

Research has shown that most smokers benefit from using counseling, medications and social support to help quit.1 To meet this benchmark, you are required, at a minimum, to provide coverage for counseling and smoking cessation medications.

Required Documentation:
Copy of health plan benefits or health plan promotional materials.

By promoting free cessation services to your employees, you are doing your part to help fight the leading cause of preventable death and the source of many chronic diseases and conditions that cause long-term suffering.2,3

You can promote your own in-house cessation programs (if applicable) or the Louisiana Tobacco Quitline. The Quitline is a free cessation resource that links individuals who want to quit using tobacco with trained specialists through phone counseling, web support or both.

Required Documentation:
Written description or pictures of ways in which the LA Tobacco Quitline or other service is promoted to employees and students.

Federal law requires employers to provide breastfeeding employees with time and a space to express milk. Implementing this benchmark enables you to comply with this law. It can also lead to savings through the retention of your valued employees, reduction of sick time taken and lower healthcare and insurance costs.4

Even better, providing lactation accommodations doesn’t require many resources to implement. Employees simply need reasonable break times, a private space and employer support.

Required Documentation:
Well-Ahead will verify this benchmark is met with the Louisiana Breastfeeding Coalition.

A worksite wellness program is an employee-centered approach to improving health outcomes, health behaviors, productivity and morale in the workplace. Offering wellness activities can provide employees with the opportunity to improve their health, reduce their risk of chronic disease and lower their healthcare costs. For colleges and universities, that can mean increased productivity and profit. Worksite wellness programs can also be implemented at little to no cost while creating an environment that helps move Louisiana’s health forward. 

Beginning Implementation starts with management support, designating a program coordinator and completing an employee assessment.

Required Documentation:
Letter from management indicating support for a worksite wellness program. Name of the designated staff person to lead the program. Brief description of worksite/employee assessments planned, in progress, or completed.

Once the employee assessment phase has been completed, you can then move onto the second worksite wellness benchmark for WellSpot designation – Partial Implementation. At this stage, the assessment results will be used to develop a work plan of activities or programs to encourage healthy behaviors surrounding physical activity, nutrition, tobacco cessation and mental health.

Required Documentation:
Copy of wellness work plan or calendar of events specific to the organization, reflective of assessment results and including activity descriptions related to physical activity, nutrition, tobacco cessation and mental health.

Once you have developed a worksite wellness plan, continue to encourage and motivate your employees as you implement the plan. To meet the full implementation benchmark, perform an assessment after one year to evaluate the impact of the program.

Required Documentation:
Description of how annual program evaluation was conducted or copy of annual evaluation results.

5-2-1-0 is a simple message that encourages healthy eating and physical activity. It recommends the following for each day: 

5 or more fruits and vegetables

2 hours or less on recreational screen time

1 hour or more of physical activity

0 soda and sweetened drinks (more water and low-fat milk).

This WellSpot benchmark is a way for you to help your employees make positive changes to improve their health and decrease their risk for chronic diseases including diabetes and obesity. 

There are a number of ways you can promote the 5-2-1-0 message:

  • Share the message at a staff meeting.
  • Share the message in a newsletter or email update.
  • Add the message to employee check stub envelopes.
  • Add the message to your cafeteria menus.
  • Promote the message on social media platforms.
  • Display a 5-2-1-0 poster in the employee break room.
Required Documentation:
Written description or pictures of at least two ways in which the 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go! message is promoted to employees and students.

Healthy snacking is essential to promoting wellness and providing the best nutrients for health, energy and productivity. With more than 36% of Louisiana residents considered obese, accessibility to nutritious snack options that are low in calories, fat, sugar and sodium can change the way your employees snack and help improve their overall health.5

You can make the healthy choice the easy choice when it comes to selecting snacks and beverages for vending machines at your facility. 

In order to meet this benchmark, at least 50% of snacks and beverages you provide to employees and students (including each vending machine) must meet one of the approved healthy vending guidelines provided at these links:

Required Documentation:
Inventory of vending machine or snack options from vendor (with nutritional information if available) or picture of vending machine (if nutritional information is posted on the machine).

By promoting self-assessment tools, you can help your employees better understand their health and reduce the risk for diabetes and heart disease. As a result, your employees will miss less work due to illness or hospitalization and have lower healthcare costs. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 108 million Americans have high blood pressure and more than 30 million Americans have diabetes.6,7 Encourage your employees to take the self-assessments to have a better understanding of their health. 

Please note that these evidence-based self-assessments have been developed by national partners and should not be used in place of a visit to a healthcare provider.

Self-Assessment Tools for Heart Health:

My Life Check by American Heart Association

Heart Age Predictor Using BMI by CDC

Sample Communication to Promote Heart Health Self-Assessments 

Self-Assessment Tools for Prediabetes:

Prediabetes Risk Test by CDC, AMA, ADA and Ad Council

Sample Communication to Promote Prediabetes Self-Assessment

Required Documentation:
Written description or pictures of ways in which the self-assessment tools are promoted.

In order to meet this benchmark, your school must provide ongoing services related to any of the following topics: tobacco cessation, physical activity, nutrition, mental health (including stress management). 

Examples of health and wellness services include, but are not limited to the following: 

  • Recreational/fitness center accessible to all students
  • Sports groups or clubs
  • On-site health center for medical services, pharmacy services and immunizations
  • Tobacco cessation counseling
  • Nutrition education sessions
  • Counseling for stress and/or mental health

Many of these programs can be used interchangeably to serve both employees and students. Colleges and universities may be able to offer programs that meet benchmarks for worksite wellness, as well as student health and wellness services.

Required Documentation:
Written description of ways in which at least three health and wellness services are offered to students.

In order to meet this benchmark, the main cafeteria or dining hall on the campus must offer and promote at least one healthy menu option during each meal served daily. Healthy menu options should include items like grilled, baked or blackened lean meat/fish; raw, baked or steamed vegetables; whole grains or fresh fruit.

Required Documentation:
Copy of menu showing healthy options available at each meal time Description as to how each menu item meets approved nutrition guidelines

You can register to become a WellSpot. Take the assessment to begin.


1 Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence: 2008 Update. Tobacco Use and Dependence Guideline Panel. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK63952/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Smoking-Attributable Mortality, Years of Potential Life Lost, and Productivity Losses—United States, 2000–2004. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2008;57(45):1226–8. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5745a3.htm

3 American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control Report for Louisiana. Retrieved from: http://www.stateoftobaccocontrol.org/state-grades/louisiana/highlights.html

4 The Business Case For Breastfeeding. Published in 2008 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Retrieved from https://www.womenshealth.gov/files/documents/bcfb_business-case-for-breastfeeding-for-business-managers.pdf

5 Adult Obesity Rates, State of Childhood Obesity, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. https://stateofchildhoodobesity.org/adult-obesity/

6 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Facts About Hypertension in the United States. https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/facts.htm

7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Diabetes Quick Facts. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/quick-facts.html