What’s in the Act
Download the Healthy Schools Act brochure (pdf) with information on the Act and school meals.
Read the full text of the Healthy Schools Act (pdf).
Read about the Act’s history and more at Councilmember Mary Cheh’s website.
The Act addresses the following areas:
- Breakfast/Lunch Access
- School Nutrition
- Farm to School
- Physical Activity & Education
- Health Education
- School Environment
- Competitive Foods
- Health & Wellness
The access sections of Title II of the Healthy Schools Act requires schools to:
1. Make breakfast free to all DCPS and public charter school students.
2. Serve free breakfast through “alternative serving models” after the school day begins.
Elementary schools where 40% or more of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals must serve breakfast in the classroom. Middle and high schools where more than 40% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals must serve breakfast either in the classroom, or through another alternative like grab and go carts.
DCPS and public charter schools that comply with all of Sections 202 and 203 in Title II of the Act receive $7 per student (only in 2010-11) to launch breakfast in the classroom and other alternative service models. This funding applies only to schools where more than 40% of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals.
This chart shows which access requirements apply to each type of school.
3. Remove the co-payment for reduced-price lunch.
Children living in households with incomes between 130% and 185% of the federal poverty level will no longer have to pay a co-payment for reduced-price lunch.
D.C. Public Schools, public charter, and participating private schools that comply with all of Sections 202 and 203 in Title II of the Act will receive 40 ¢ extra for each lunch served to students who qualify for reduced-price meals.
The Act provides funding for schools to meet the federal school nutrition requirements for school meals. To comply with Title II of the Healthy Schools Act, schools must:
1. Enhance nutrition of school meals by including more whole grains, a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, less fat, and less sodium.
- Vegetables must be offered every day, and a different vegetable offered each day of the week.
- Fruits must be offered every day; a different fruit must be offered each day of the week; fresh fruits must be available at least 2 days per week; only 100% juice only counts as a fruit serving only 1 time per week.
- Milk must be offered every day, and only fat-free or low-fat milk must be offered.
- Whole grains must be served at least once each day.
- Breakfasts and lunches must contain limited saturated fat (fewer than 10% of calories), no trans fat, and sodium must be reduced gradually until 2020.
- Schools are also encouraged to serve a vegetarian option each week.
2. Expand access to school meals.
See the Breakfast/Lunch Access section above.
3. Promote healthy eating to students, faculty, staff and parents, and solicit input from students, faculty and parents to come up with nutritious and appealing meals.
Input can include taste tests, comment boxes, surveys, a student nutrition advisory council.
4. Post menus, ingredients, and food origins information in school offices and on school websites.
5. Improve nutrition of competitive foods.
See the Competitive Foods section below.
Schools are also encouraged to serve locally-grown fruits and vegetables. See the Farm to School section below.
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FARM TO SCHOOL
Title III of the Healthy Schools Act requires schools to:
1. Serve locally-grown, unprocessed foods in school meals whenever possible.
The Farm to School Program the Act calls for encourages DCPS, public charter and participating private schools to serve locally-grown and unprocessed (fresh) foods whenever possible. The Act includes funding to support Farm to School programs: schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program will receive an extra 5 cents per day when at least one component of a reimbursable breakfast or lunch contains a meal component made entirely of unprocessed, locally-grown foods and meets the nutrition and access requirements of the Healthy Schools Act.
In order to receive the extra 5 cent reimbursement, the school must provide the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) with the names and addresses of the farms where the fresh, local foods originated.
Locally-grown means grown in Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and North Carolina, with preference given to foods grown here in the District of Columbia, or in our neighbors Maryland and Virginia. Milk does not count as considered a “locally grown and unprocessed food” for the purposes of the additional 5-cent reimbursement.
Unprocessed foods are agricultural products such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products, etc. that retain their inherent natural character. Foods can be cooled, refrigerated, frozen, peeled, sliced, diced, cut, chopped, shucked, ground, dried, dehydrated, washed, subject to high water pressure or cold pasteurized, packaged, vacuum packed, or bagged and still be considered unprocessed according to the USDA definition – see See USDA/FNS policy memo Geographic Preference for the Procurement of Unprocessed Agricultural Products in the Child Nutrition Programs (pdf).
2. Ensure that these farm-fresh foods are grown sustainably whenever possible.
3. Encourage schools to partner with District agencies and community organizations on Farm to School education efforts.
The Act directs District agencies (OSSE Department of Health, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of the Environment) to work with community partners (such as University of the District of Columbia, school food vendors, and community organizations) to create educational programming that promotes purchasing and eating locally- and sustainably-grown foods.
4. Participate in at least one Farm to School educational program each year.
For example, schools can participate in a seasonal celebratory Growing Healthy Schools Month or Strawberries and Salad Greens Day. OSSE will share the responsibility for this requirement.
5. Report where fruits and vegetables served in schools are grown and processed and whether growers are engaged in sustainable practices.
School food vendors will share the responsibility for this requirement.
The Act also lifts a ban on the use of public recreation facilities for farmers markets and other programs that provide access to healthy foods.
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PHYSICAL ACTIVITY & EDUCATION
To comply with Title IV of the Healthy Schools Act, schools must:
1. Provide physical education in the following amounts:
- at least 30 minutes/week (school years 2010-11 to 2013-14).
- 150 minutes/week (school year 2014-15 and beyond).
- at least 45 minutes/week (school years 2010-11 to 2013-14).
- 225 minutes/week (school year 2014-15 and beyond).
- High schools will work with OSSE and the State Board of Education to expand physical education.
2. Devote at least 50% of physical education class time to physical activity.
Physical activity should be moderate to vigorous as often as possible.
3. Meet the D.C. educational standards for physical education.
4. Provide suitably adapted physical education for students with disabilities.
5. Not require or withhold physical activity as a punishment for students.
Schools must notify teachers about this requirement.
To make sure that all schools have access to physical activity facilities, the Healthy Schools Act directs the Department of Parks and Recreation to provide schools access to recreation centers, fields, playgrounds, and other facilities.
Schools can also encourage students to walk or bike to school; promote active recess; include physical activity in afterschool and classroom activities; support athletic programs.
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To comply with Title IV of the Healthy Schools Act, schools must:
1. Provide at least 15 minutes of health education per week to students in grades K-8.
2. By the 2014-2015 school year, schools must provide 75 minutes of health education per week to grades K-8.
Health education curricula and programs include topics such as nutrition, mental health, sexual health, and drug abuse, and must continue to meet the D.C. educational standards for health education.
2. Ensure that students have adequate personal health knowledge.
At the end of each school year, students must be able to meet the state health education standards.
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Title V of the Healthy Schools Act sets up requirements to help the D.C. school system go green. It establishes an environmental programs Office within the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization, which will:
- run recycling, energy reduction, and integrated pest management programs at DCPS schools;
- test drinking water for lead;
- make sure schools comply with EPA standards for indoor air quality and lead removal;
- encourage more environmentally-friendly practices in building construction, school meals, and school cleaning procedures.
Title V directs District agencies to:
1. Establish an environmental literacy plan for DCPS and public charter schools.
This plan will be developed by the District Department of the Environment, in cooperation with DCPS, Department of Parks and Recreation, the State Board of Education, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), and the University of the District of Columbia (UDC).
2. Establish a School Gardens Program within OSSE.
This program will give grants to DCPS and charter schools to start gardens and encourage them to include demonstration compost piles in their gardens (food must be grown in safe soil); provide curricula, technical assistance, and other support; and keep data on the locations and types of gardens. The program will also assist schools in receiving certification as U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools.
3. Allow schools to sell, and allow students to consume, food grown in school gardens.
4. Meet LEED Gold Level certification for school buildings – whenever possible, new and renovated buildings should be green, according to LEED.
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Competitive foods are those foods and beverages available or sold outside of the federally-reimbursable school breakfast and lunch programs. These foods are available in vending machines, a la carte lines, snack bars, school stores and other places in schools, and include foods and beverages provided for school fundraisers and student rewards. Foods and beverages advertised and marketed in schools are included.
To comply with the competitive foods section of Title II of the Act, schools must:
1. Meet the HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award Level requirements for food and beverages sold in vending machines, cafeteria a la carte lines, school stores, and snack bars or foods and beverages provided for school fundraisers, and student rewards.
Portion sizes must be equal to or smaller than items served in the school lunch program or are foods in packages of 200 calories or less.
Fat should make up 35% or less of calories from total fat (this excludes nuts and reduced-fat cheese). Foods must be trans-fat free, with 10% or less of calories coming from saturated fat (this excludes reduced-fat cheese).
Sugar must equal 35% or less by weight (this excludes fruits, vegetables, and milk).
Sodium must be 480 mg or less per side dish, and 600 mg or less per entrée.
Beverages must be limited to low-fat or fat-free milk, 100% fruit/vegetable juice, or water.
These requirements for competitive foods do not apply to food and beverages available only to staff and faculty, food provided at no cost by parents, food sold or provided at official after-school events, or food and beverages served at adult education programs. Schools, parents, and others can encourage all members of the school community to help promote healthy eating.
2. Not allow third parties (other than school-related organizations and school meal service providers) to sell foods or beverages on school property from 90 minutes before the school day begins until 90 minutes after the school day ends.
Enforcement: The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) is responsible for enforcing the competitive food provisions of the Act. OSSE will first issue a warning when a school is violating the competitive food provisions of the Act. After issuing a warning, if the violation is not corrected, OSEE may impose a penalty, not to exceed $500 per day paid to the Healthy Schools Fund. Schools have the right to a hearing if that request is made within 10 days after the notice of imposition of penalty is set.
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HEALTH & WELLNESS
Local Wellness Policies set nutrition guidelines for foods available on campus during the school day, as well as goals for school meal program participation, nutrition education, and physical activity. All local educational agencies participating in the National School Lunch Program were required to adopt a Local Wellness Policy by 2006.
DCPS’s Local Wellness Policy (pdf), first adopted in 2006 and updated in 2014, is one of the strongest in the country, and the Healthy Schools Act makes D.C. schools Local Wellness Policies even stronger.
To comply with Title VI of the Healthy Schools Act, schools must:
1. Develop a Local Wellness Policy team to help shape the school’s wellness policy.
The team should include parents, students, food service providers, and community organizations.
2. Make sure the policy complies with the requirements set forth in federal law and includes goals, required under the Healthy Schools Act, for:
- improving the environmental sustainability of schools;
- increasing the use of locally-grown, locally-processed, and unprocessed foods from growers engaged in sustainable agriculture practices;
- increasing physical activity.
3. Promote the policy to faculty, staff, parents, and students.
A copy must be:
- posted on the school’s website (if it has one);
- distributed to food service staff members;
- distributed to the school’s parent/teacher organization, if it has one;
- made available in each school’s office.
4. Complete the annual School Health Profile and submit it to OSSE by February 15 of each year.
Information covered in the Profile includes:
- presence of a school health center, and qualifications of school health and wellness staff;
- participation in school meals and out-of-school time food programs;
- school meal nutrition content and farm-to-school program participation;
- weekly amount of health and physical education;
- where to find a copy of the school’s local wellness policy.
(OSSE collects and posts School Health Profiles for DCPS and charter schools on its website. The Profiles list contact information for more information about health and wellness programs at each school.)
5. Maintain a tobacco-free school campus.
Tobacco products are prohibited inside DCPS and public charter schools, and from school parking lots, sports fields, other school grounds, and school-sponsored events off-campus.
Policies must be revised at least once every 3 years. The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) will review each local wellness policy to ensure that it complies with federal requirements and shall examine whether schools comply with their policies.
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