Untitled 1 Real Food for Kids - Montgomery, LLC
 Real Food for Kids - Montgomery
RFKM School Food Improvement Award 


Takoma Park Elementary School Receives 2016-2017 School Food Improvement Award

June 13, 2017
On June 1, 2017 Takoma Park Elementary School (TPES) was awarded the School Food Improvement Award for their efforts in improving the school food environment and overall well-being of TPES students.

Lindsey holding award
Top: Alisa O'Brien, TPES Wellness Committee Member; Zadia Gadsden, Principal, TPES; Lindsey Parsons, Exec. Dir., RFKM; Front: Andrew, student, TPES

The award was given to TPES principal, Dr. Zadia T. Gadsden at the weekly afterschool farm stand established this spring by the TPES PTA Health and Wellness Committee in partnership with a local farm, Your Chef’s Table. The Wellness Committee is led by RFKM School Representative and former RFKM Member Coordinator, Marissa Walker. The farm stand, which is stationed next to the playground, has successfully attracted a steady stream of kids and their families, as well as faculty, staff and community members. The fresh, local, seasonal produce comes from a farm in Montgomery County and is grown without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or GMOs. Pasture-raised eggs and chicken as well as fruits and vegetables are available, as well as complete meal kits using farm-fresh ingredients. The farm stand takes all forms of payment, including EBT/SNAP.

Russ Testa, farmer 
Russ Testa, Farmer, Your Chef's Table farm

TPES has been a leader in school wellness initiatives over the last several years, including the launch of the Move More! Sit Less campaign in April 2015. This campaign provided TPES K-2 teachers with information and equipment (including yoga balls, wiggle seats, and other movement tools) necessary to infuse movement into their curricula and classroom routines, as well as to educate the broader school community about the benefits of physical activity and its link to improved health, cognition and academic performance. The following year, the Health and Wellness Committee documented active classrooms by creating an educational video, Minds on the Move, and still photographs that appear in large posters around the school. The Health and Wellness Committee now maintains a supply of movement equipment available to any interested teachers.

Furthermore, recognizing that outdoor spaces are vital to whole-school wellness efforts, since 2013, the TPES PTA's Playground and Field Committee has:

  • Raised approximately $20,000 for (and managed the installation of) an outdoor classroom that doubles as a shade structure during recess.
  • Raised $2,400 for - and managed the installation of - 12 trees around the play field perimeter, to provide much-needed shade.
  • Worked to sustain a viable playing field surface, including successfully advocating for a county-wide school play space management program that will support a long-term solution to providing continuously usable play space.
Marissa Walker with her son
Marissa Walker, Chair, TPES Wellness Committee with her son

RFKM is very proud of Takoma Park Elementary School, their many active PTA committees and parents and their supportive principal for their continuous efforts in promoting wellness for TPES students! 

Award Criteria


The RFKM School Food Improvement Award recognizes school administrators and parents who have worked together to improve the school food environment. There are many different ways that your school may have exemplified such efforts. For example:

  • The presence of a wellness committee and/or school-based wellness policy
  • Improvements to a la carte items and/or vending choices
  • Healthy classroom snacks and in-school parties
  • Healthy PTA fundraisers and events
  • PTA signing the RFKM Healthy kids Pledge
  • Nutrition speakers, classes and assemblies
  • School garden

Calls for nominations go out in the spring of each school year to RFKM school representatives and through our listserv and a committee selects one winner each year.


"As a professional in public health, working to reduce obesity and preventable chronic illness among children by increasing access to healthy foods and physical activity in and out of school, I strongly support these recommendations. They are timely and on point. Our children spend many hours a day at school, some children eating the bulk of their meals at school, thus we have an obligation to be smart and responsible with regard to the meals and snacks we provide to them. Schools all across this country are taking steps to adopt a higher standard in school nutrition services. As we take pride in calling ourselves, and being recognized by others, as one of the greatest school districts in the country, we must see it fit to lead in every aspect of our children's education and well-being at school."
- One of the signers of the RFKM 2014 petition on school food.

         Copyright © 2018   Chesapeake Institute for Local Sustainable Food and Agriculture (RFKM's fiscal sponsor)