D.C. Healthy Schools Act


In May 2010, the D.C. Council passed the Healthy Schools Act, a landmark law designed to improve the health and wellness of students attending D.C. public and public charter schools. The Act took effect August 2010.

This website will introduce you to specific components of the act and resources to get your local schools involved.

Now that the Act is in the second year of implementation, see the year one – DC Healthy Schools Act Year One Snapshot (pdf) – and year two – Report on the Health, Wellness and Nutrition of Youth and Schools in the District of Columbia (pdf) – accomplishments.

Check out the video below to see how the Act is transforming the school environment.

A special thank you to the American University and Kaiser Permanente for creating this video.


D.C. Hunger Solutions Report Shows Positive Impact of Healthy School Act on School Breakfast Participation

Making Breakfast Work in D.C., a new analysis from D.C. Hunger Solutions, looks at school breakfast participation and the impact of the D.C. Healthy Schools Act (HSA) in 72 D.C. Public Schools. The HSA, passed unanimously by the D.C. Council in 2010, made breakfast free for all students and required schools to adopt alternative serving methods, such as breakfast in the classroom, to ensure children had easy access to this meal. More…

Registration Open For OSSE/UDC Farm Field Trips

The Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE), in partnership with the University of the District of Columbia, is offering two free farm field trips for teachers this summer to the UDC Farm (Muirkirk Farm) in Beltsville, MD. Teachers will have an opportunity to tour the space, meet the staff, and to find out how your students will benefit from visiting Muirkirk Farm. More…

Youth Risk Behavior Survey Report

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) is a survey of health-risk behaviors conducted in middle and high schools every two years in Washington, DC and around the United States. The YRBS covers six topic areas including:

  • Behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence
  • Tobacco use
  • Alcohol and other drug use
  • Sexual risk behaviors
  • Unhealthy dietary behaviors
  • Physical inactivity

The Healthy Schools Act aims to help children and teens maintain a healthy weight by improving access to healthy fresh local foods, increasing the amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole grains offered in school meals and increasing the amounts of physical activity and health education in schools. According to the 2012 YRBS survey results, the percentage of D.C. high school students who are obese significantly decreased from 17% in 2007 to 15% in 2012. To read the full report, click here.

SAVE THE DATE: OSSE/AFHK Teacher Wellness Symposium, August 11th and 12th

OSSE will partner with Action for Healthy Kids and other community-based organizations to host a FREE Teacher Wellness Symposium on August 11th and 12th, 2014. This two-day workshop will consist of sessions to assist all teachers in incorporating health and wellness into their classrooms, serving as health and wellness role models for their students, and addressing their own health and wellness needs. The Symposium is open to teachers in Maryland, DC, and Virginia. Please complete this form to provide an email address where you can be reached over the summer and more information will be sent to you shortly. For more information, please contact Nancy Brenowitz Katz (Nancy.Katz@dc.gov).

American University Evaluates Impact of D.C. Healthy Schools Act

Researchers at American University have been analyzing the impact of the act on student academic achievement. A recent finding indicates that, among third, fourth and fifth graders, there is a correlation between the number of physical education minutes students receive and their scores on the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System in both reading and mathematics. As physical education minutes increased, student scores also improved on the test. More…

“Fire Up Your Feet” Challenge

Kaiser Permanente, the National PTA and Safe Routes to School Partnership are sponsoring a spring challenge to encourage local school-aged children to fire up their feet! Schools can track their physical activity online and they may be eligible to win awards. More than $13,000 will be awarded to local schools to support healthy activities and resources. The spring Fire Up Your Feet challenge takes place May 1-31 and is available to all Mid-Atlantic region schools. Students, families and school staff can sign up, track their activity and help their school earn awards. Challenge awards can support walking school bus programs, bike racks, traffic safety education, and will help encourage students and communities to enjoy more walking and biking. For more information visit fireupyourfeet.org.

Happy Earth Day and Congratulations to the DCPS Recycles! Honor Roll

Today DGS released the DCPS Recycles! Honor Roll recognizing 40 schools that have shown enthusiasm for, and excellence in, recycling this year. More…

DC School Garden Program in Featured in Parade Magazine

“The District’s School Gardens Program was established through the D.C. Healthy Schools Act (2010) and is a component of the Division of Wellness and Nutrition Services at the OSSE, which along with community groups, like DC Greens, assists schools in building and maintaining school gardens and provides training for teachers on how to use them as teaching tools.” More…

Review the Healthy Schools Act Accomplishments

Now that the Act is in the second year of implementation, see the year one – DC Healthy Schools Act Year One Snapshot (pdf) – year two – Report on the Health, Wellness and Nutrition of Youth and Schools in the District of Columbia (pdf) – and year three accomplishments (pdf).

Farm Field Trip Grants Available

On Monday, March 31, 2014 OSSE released the Farm Field Trip Grant Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA). This is a great opportunity for teachers to secure funding to take their students on an engaging educational field trip to a farm in our region. The RFA will be released two weeks from today (March 31, 2014). View the NOFA here. Once available, the Farm Field Trip Grant RFA and supporting documents can be accessed here.

School Breakfast: Act Now to Win Prizes for Your School or Your Family

Continue to celebrate School Breakfast and participate in the School Breakfast Contest. From now until March 21st, people can share why school breakfast is important for their families. Both schools and students will be eligible for prizes. The first place winner will receive a $1000 for their school. Flyer is available in English (pdf) and Spanish(pdf).

New Progress Report on DC Healthy School’s Act

The Healthy Schools Act (HSA) was passed in 2010 as a landmark policy in the District of Columbia to create a healthy school environment where students can achieve academically and learn healthy nutrition and activity habits for life. Check out the Act’s progress to date in this new report created by OSSE’s Wellness and Nutrition Services Division.

DC Physical Activity for Youth (DC PAY) Grant

The application submission deadline for the 2014-2015 DC Physical Activity for Youth (DC PAY) grant is April 4, 2014. The purpose of this grant is to increase the capacity of D.C. public and D.C. public charter schools to provide physical activity to all students before, during, or after the school day. The application consists of two required forms- the Documents Form and the Narrative Form. All application information and materials are available here. For additional information, please contact Katie Lantuh at kathryn.lantuh@dc.gov.

OSSE Announces 2014-15 School Garden Grant Recipients

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education announced the 21 District public and public charter schools selected as grant recipients through the School Garden Grant program, an initiative of the D.C. Healthy Schools Act. Collectively, nearly $300,000 in grant funds will be distributed between March 2014 and March 2015 to facilitate garden-based learning and nutrition education. More…

Get 60 Minutes

The IOM report says that even with busy schedules, youth can get 60 minutes of physical activity per day through taking advantage of active transport to and from school, classroom activity time, recess, physical education class, after-school programs, and intra and extramural sports. More…

Washington Post article: Playworks coaches help put the fun back in recess at 14 D.C. schools

“…14 public and charter schools in the District have overhauled recess dramatically to make playtime a priority.” More…

Report on the Health, Wellness and Nutrition of Youth and Schools in the District of Columbia – 2012-2013 (pdf)

This Report assesses the overall implementation of the HSA of 2010 and its 2011 amendments. Instead of providing a detailed title by title analysis of HSA implementation and next steps, the Commission has opted to focus its 2013 report on the city’s progress in five priority areas: Physical and Health Education, Evaluation, Promotion of the HSA, DC Universal Health Certificate (UHC) Collection Rates, and Mental Health Screenings. For each area, the report highlights: significant achievements, select best practices adopted by other states and schools, and recommendations.

Missed Meals Missed Opportunities – Washington D.C. Remains First in the Nation for Reaching Children with Meals during the Summer Months but the Program Still Fails to Reach Thousands

The District of Columbia has ranked first in the nation for reaching low-income children with summer meals for eight consecutive years, but participation needs to grow to reach thousands of additional children and teens. According to a report released by D.C. Hunger Solutions and the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates, participation in the D.C. Free Summer Meals Program dropped from an average of 29,036 participants eating lunch each day in 2007 to an average of 21,514 in 2012. Participation decreased every year between 2007 and 2012, with the exception of 2010. More…

DC School Garden Grants Announced, Applications Due January 31st

OSSE invites LEA’s or gardening-focused community-based organizations to apply for a School Garden Grant. Follow this link to the request for applications, eligibility requirements and application form.

Healthy Schools Act Art & Essay Contest Winners

On October 7th, a panel of 8 judges convened and decided 14 winners for this year’s Healthy Schools Act Student Art & Essay Contest. The Division of Wellness and Nutrition Services received nearly 200 entries across four grade groups (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12) and expanded the awards structure to include 4th places for the K-2 and 3-5 grade groups. The winners will receive a monetary award and plaque for their school. The 14 award-winning students were announced at the Growing Healthy Schools Week kick-off event at Thurgood Marshall Academy PCHS on Monday, October 21, 2013 Congratulations to all of the participants!

D.C. Students Enjoy the “Crunch Heard ‘Round the World”

On October 24th at 10am, 10,000 students across D.C. will simultaneously sink their teeth into crisp, Fall apples generously provided by Whole Foods Market. Spearheaded by Food Day and organized by DC Greens, “Capital Crunch” is part of Growing Healthy Schools Week, a celebration of farm to school and school garden programs across the district. During the week there will be many exciting events that aim to connect students with healthy food in their community. Follow this link to learn more about Growing Health Schools Week and some of the great events taking place.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program Teacher Workshop

The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is a USDA program that provides fresh fruits and vegetables to K-5th students during the school day. More than 80 D.C. public and charter schools are enrolled in this year’s program. This teacher workshop will focus on how to maximize the benefits of the program for student and introduce teachers to DC Greens classroom resources. Find out more… (pdf)

Growing Healthy Schools Week is October 20-26, 2013.

Find out more…

Michelle Obama, Shaquille O’Neal talk fitness at D.C. elementary school

On September 6, 2013 , students at Orr Elementary School in Southeast DC got a special visit from First Lady Michelle Obama and former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal as part of an assembly to promote the “Let’s Move” campaign. Recognizing the school’s dedication to promoting healthy behaviors, Obama praised the students and school leadership for embracing new, healthier lunches and expressing hope that “every school in America with follow DC’s lead.” More…

October 9, 2013 is International Walk to School Day

Start an event at your school or join an existing effort to raise awareness about the importance of physical activity. Follow this link to see which schools in your community have already registered. If you’re the first, register your event for free. Then take advantage of these resources to start planning your event. Check out tips for planning your first Walk to School Day event, event planning ideas, incentive suggestions, and more.

Healthy Schools Act Infographic

OSSE, in partnership with the Healthy Youth and Schools Commission and D.C. Hunger Solutions, is launching a citywide campaign to educate the public about the transformative potential of the Healthy Schools Act. A new infographic shows how the Act is working to help schools, students and families: 1) Eat Right, 2) Stay Active, 3) Learn Healthy Habits, 4) Care for the Environment, and 5) Create Healthier Communities. Across the District, information about the Act will be featured at bus stops and on banners at public, public charter schools, and participating private schools.

Healthy Schools Act Essay Contest Entries Due Friday October 4th

We are excited to announce the Healthy Schools Act Art and Essay Contest. Students may submit an essay, poem, drawing, painting, original photograph, or video telling us how their school is doing in terms of promoting health and wellness. This is a great opportunity for students and schools to be recognized for their great efforts towards making our schools healthier. Click here for more information.

Farm to School and School Garden Report

This report outlines the District’s farm to school and school garden initiatives, the state of school gardens, and recommendations for improvement. Click here to read the full report.

DC Healthy Schools Act Breakfast

On August 15th, 2013, D.C. Hunger Solutions hosted a Healthy Schools Act Breakfast, in partnership with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education and the Commission on Healthy Youth and Schools, for community and afterschool providers. More than 30 community partners attended. Highlights of the event included: an overview of the goals of the Healthy Schools Act, strategies for integrating the District’s health education and physical education and activity standards into community programming, a pre-screening of an interactive map that will show the various health and wellness programs in DC public and public charter schools, and group brainstorming sessions. All participants received copies of the brand new Healthy Schools Act infographic (pdf) and other resources to promote healthy eating and active living in their programming.

BiycleSPACE DC School Garden Tour June 2013

BicycleSPACE led a DC School Garden Tour recently– a trip that brought participants to 5 area schools where gardening has become an important part of the curriculum for students. Representatives from each of the schools (Capitol Montessori at Logan, Stuart Hobson Middle School,Jefferson Middle School, Mundo Verde Public Charter School, and HD Cooke Elementary School) greeted participants upon arrival and spoke about their gardens. Follow this link to more information on this and future DC School Garden Tours and other educational-themed rides.

Annual DC SCORES Jamboree

On June 1st, DC SCORES hosted its 18th Annual DC SCORES Jamboree. Over 1,450 youth representing 45 schools joined hundreds of parents, dozens of volunteers, and program partners at Anacostia Park. To give an idea of just how large the event was, 128 elementary and middle school soccer games were played on 14 fields. Additionally, former U.S. Women’s National Team members including Angela Hucles, Heather Mitts and others taught soccer techniques and played games with the DC SCORES students. Revolution Foods, the event’s lunch provider, teamed up with DC Hunger Solutions to lead a station where students created nutritious snacks — such as a yogurt parfait with peaches and berries — to keep them feeling good during the long, hot day of soccer. More…

2013 DC Physical Activity for Youth (DC PAY) Grant Awards Announced

Physical education and health education are important components of a healthy school environment. Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School, a recent report published by the Institute of Medicine, confirms the benefits of adding physical activity to the school day. In DC, the Healthy Schools Act provides funding for schools to increase their physical activity before, during and after the school day through the DC Physical Activity for Youth (DC PAY) grant program. Follow this link to the list of 2013 grant winners.

F(un)-Cook Book

The DC Farm to School Network’s dietetic intern Catherine has been hard at work on a raw-prep cookbook to celebrate school garden harvests each season. More than 30 easy to prepare recipes showcase a different garden delight. Give them a try in your school garden or at home! Explore the F(un)-Cook Book (pdf)  and follow her week of cooking demos in D.C. schools via twitter!

Healthy Lunchtime Challenge

First Lady Michelle Obama is again teaming up with Epicurious, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Department of Agriculture to host a nationwide recipe challenge to promote healthy eating among America’s youth. For more information and submission guidelines, visit this website. Also, visit the Healthy Schools Act tip page to see how District schools are engaging school administrators, students, families and community organizations around healthy eating.

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

Hosted by the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition — a who’s who of 25 Americans appointed by President Barack Obama to represent healthy lifestyles — the initiative is simple: to motivate all Americans to get more physical activity. Watch the PSA below for more information and ideas for staying active:

Upcoming Events:

May 29 – The DC Office of the Superintendent of Education – Farm to School – Strawberries & Salad Greens Day (pdf)
RSVP here.

May 23Farm to School 101 Training (pdf)
Hosted by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education & the DC Farm to School Network at DC Greens.

Grants Available to Support School Breakfast and Physical Activity

Action for Healthy Kids, partnering with CSX Transportation, Kellogg Company, and the Walmart Foundation are offering grants for the 2013-2014 school year to support increasing breakfast participation or adding more minutes of physical activity for students. Awards will be given to over 400 schools ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. Applications are due April 19, 2013. More…

Report on the Health, Wellness and Nutrition of Youth and Schools in the District of Columbia

The Report assesses the overall implementation of the HSA of 2010 and its 2011 amendments with a focus on the following key areas of the Act: School Nutrition – Title II, Farm to School – Title III, Physical and Health Education – Title IV, Environment – Title V, and Health and Wellness – Title VI. For each area, the report highlights: significant achievements, select best practices adopted by other states and schools, and recommendations. More… (pdf)

Physical Activity Grant Opportunity

The Division of Wellness and Nutrition Services within the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is soliciting grant applications for the District of Columbia Physical Activity for Youth (DC PAY) program. The purpose of this program is to increase the capacity of DC schools to provide physical activity to all students before, during, or after the school day. More… (pdf)

USDA Farm to School Grants Available

Three different kinds of grants are available:

  • Planning grants, intended for schools just getting started on farm to school activities;
  • Implementation grants, available for schools seeking to augment or expand existing efforts;
  • Support service grants, for eligible non-profit entities, Indian tribal organizations, state and local agencies, and agriculture producers or groups of producers, to conduct trainings, create complementary curriculum, or further develop supply chains, among other activities.

Proposals are due at midnight EST, April 24, 2013. To assist eligible entities in preparing proposals, USDA will host a series of webinars related to the application process:

  • March 5, 2013, 1:00 EST – Planning Grants
  • March 6, 2013, 1:00 EST – Implementation Grants
  • March 7, 2013, 1:00 EST – Support Service Grants


New Report Shows School Breakfast Participation Continues to Grow in Washington, D.C.

D.C. Healthy Schools Act Ensures Low-Income Children Have Access to Healthy Meals at School
The School Breakfast Scorecard, a report released annually by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), found that D.C. served 69.5 low-income children breakfast for every 100 that received lunch during the 2011-2012 school year, which is an increase from the previous school year’s high of 64.2 students for every 100 receiving school lunch. More…

DC Healthy Schools Act Hearing

A public hearing will take place on Thursday, December 13 at 11am in the Wilson Building to discuss implementation of the HSA of 2010 and the District’s Environmental Literacy Plan. More…

VIDEO: Ballou High School’s Entry to the Fit for our Future Video Competition 2012

Action for Healthy Kids is pleased to announce grant funding…

…to support elementary schools’ wellness initiatives for the 2013 calendar year. With generous funding from Stop & Shop/Giant Family Foundation, AFHK will award 40 schools with $1,000 each to impact nutrition and/or physical activity programming. Grants are currently only available in the following states: Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Grant introduction webinar: Monday, December 3 at 4:00 pm. Deadline for submission: Friday, December 14. More…

Book available – A Year of Being Well: Messages from Families on Living Healthier Lives…

…Stories of people who have pinpointed areas in their everyday life that could be healthier, and changed them. Their stories are spread over 13 chapters, one a month for a year, each giving a specific action. Schools and communities can order the book in bulk. More…

10,000 DC Students Participate in Growing Healthy Schools Week 2012

62 schools participated, involving 10,000 students; 34 chefs demos reached over 1,000 students. More…

USDA Awards Grant to DC Central Kitchen to Increase Local Foods in Eligible Schools

DC Central Kitchen’s project – “Capacity for Change: Growing a Year-Round Farm to School Program” – will focus on infrastructure development. More… (pdf)

Grants available – Game On! The Ultimate Wellness Challenge

Action for Healthy Kids is pleased to announce grant funding to support elementary schools’ wellness initiatives for the 2013 calendar year.  With generous funding from Stop & Shop/Giant Family Foundation, AFHK will award 40 schools with $1,000 each to impact nutrition and/or physical activity programming. Learn more…