2014-2015: Chevy Chase Elementary School
On May 29, 2015, RFKM awarded Chevy Chase Elementary
School (CCES) the 2014-2015 Most Improved School Food Award
for their exceptional emphasis on school nutrition. Last
year, CCES created a formal wellness committee, which has
been the driving force behind many of the nutrition-related
changes that have been made.This year,
instituted RFKM’s Healthier Party Plan, which incorporated
healthy snacks and water into school parties and
discouraged soda and foods with artificial colors. CCES has
also provided teachers with RFKM’s flyer with alternative
options to rewarding children with food in class. The
wellness committee at CCES replaced cafeteria a la carte
foods containing artificial food dyes and too much sugar
with healthier items containing high fiber and whole
2013-2014: Bradley Hills Elementary School
RFKM Co-Director Lindsey Parsons (front left) awarding certificate to Bradley Hills ES Principal Sandra Reece (front right)
On Sept. 20, 2014, Real Food for Kids – Montgomery (RFKM)presented Bradley Hills Elementary School with the “RFKM School Food Improvement Award" for the 2013-2014 school year. This award recognizes the school that has made the most positive progress in the past year to improve the school food environment. The advocacy work done by RFKM’s school representative Lisa Mandell and their PTA’s Wellness Committee, in cooperation with Principal Sandra Reece, is an example to all Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) of what can be accomplished with an organized parent effort and cooperative school administrators.
Their efforts began at the end of the 2012-2013 academic year with a parent survey on school food, which indicated that parents were opposed to many of the a la carte items being sold in the cafeteria and had concerns about the nutritional value of the hot lunches. PTA Wellness Committee Chairs, Aimee Aronson and Lisa Mandell, arranged a meeting between their school’s principal, Sandra Reece, and MCPS Food and Nutrition Services Director, Marla Caplon, to voice parents’ concerns. Following this meeting, MCPS agreed to remove the a la carte items that over 50 percent of parents disapproved of (e.g., gummy fruit snacks, Doritos, and ice cream) and replace these with healthier alternatives. Additionally, the survey revealed that parents desired a salad bar, which was subsequently installed in the cafeteria.
To encourage students to eat more fruits and vegetables, as well as educate the kids about the value of nutrition, the PTA Wellness Committee organized “Rainbow Week,” during the week of April 28, in conjunction with Pack Assorted Colors for Kids (P.A.C.K) Week. The committee supplied students with charts and stickers to track the different types of food they ate throughout the week, motivating students to eat a “rainbow” of foods. Parents responded positively to the committee’s efforts, stating that their children were enthusiastically trying new fruits and vegetables at home.
The PTA Wellness Committee frequently engages with parents to ensure that their voices are being heard and that they are actively involved in their children’s health and wellness. The committee sends a monthly “What’s Up with Wellness” E-Report, which informs parents of what the committee is working on, as well as stories and tips to promote healthy eating and physical activity in the schools and at home. Additionally, at the request of Principal Reece, the committee invited Food Services Supervisor, Elizabeth Harrell, to speak to parents at their November 2013 meeting, to explain the new changes to the a la carte menu as well as the introduction of the salad bar. The committee also plays an active role in monitoring the food being served at PTA fundraisers and class parties by developing and distributing tip sheets to parents and teachers for planning healthy events.
The BHES Wellness Committee hopes to continue their success in the upcoming school year by holding a cookbook fundraiser in which students can submit their own recipes, bringing more nutrition and wellness speakers to parent meetings, as well as repeating the programs of the past year.
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:
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.