Untitled 1 Real Food for Kids - Montgomery, LLC
Real Food for Kids - Montgomery  


2016 Priorities

The top ten parent concerns from RFKM’s 2016 Member Priorities Survey, conducted from February - April 2016, are below. You can see the complete ratings here. For the second year in a row, the most important issue for MCPS parents is getting rid of so many junk food options, like burgers, fries, pizza and processed chicken at all grade levels.

Rank Priority Score*


At the elementary school level, increasing the amount of wholesome food options and reducing the amount of “junk” food options (e.g., burgers, fries, pizza, processed chicken).



At the middle and high school level, increasing the amount of wholesome food options and reducing the amount of “junk” food options (e.g., burgers, fries, pizza, processed chicken).



Moving from processed, preplated and reheated food to food cooked from scratch at the central facility with more prep work done on site at the schools with kitchens.



Removing or reducing marketing of unhealthy foods in school.



A limited set of healthier a la carte items for elementary schools.

MCPS has replaced Cheetos and Doritos in all schools with 50% whole grain pita chips, hummus, and a clean-label hot fries product.



Removing other remaining chemicals characterized as “avoid” or “caution” by the Center for Science in the Public Interest from school food.

MCPS has replaced their hot dog with one that has no nitrates or nitrites.



A limited set of healthier a la carte items for middle and high schools.



Reducing the sugar in all school foods.



Offering unlimited fruits and vegetables for free to all children who purchase lunch.



Putting salad bars in all middle and high schools.


*Scores were calculated by assigning 3 points to "Essential", 2 points to "A High Priority" and 1 point to "A moderate priority" responses and subtracting 2 points for "Not a Priority" and 1 point for "A Low Priority" responses.

Scratch cooking moved from 7th to 3rd place in this year’s survey, perhaps because we broke apart having a healthier set of a la carte items in elementary and secondary schools into two questions, which scored 5th and 7th respectively. An exciting new dark horse priority appeared in 4th place this year as we asked for the first time about removing marketing of unhealthy foods in schools. We’re excited to take on this new parent priority that has a lot of national momentum behind it. This pushed working for healthier daytime vending options into 11th place and out of the top ten.

Removing chemicals and reducing the sugar in school foods continue to be top parent priorities, as does offering unlimited fruits and vegetables to all children. And while we found strong support for putting salad bars into all middle and high schools, with that priority ranking 10th, we found much lower support for putting salad bars in elementary schools, which scored only 31st. This is likely due to to a lack of parent familiarity with the success of elementary school salad bars, which we hope we have changed after our Salad Bar Summit. In addition, cost can be an issue in implementing salad bars in the upper grades, as schools have so little to spend on food, necessitating charging by the ounce for secondary school salads. This can make the price of a salad prohibitive for many families and lead to lack of use of the salad bar. In elementary schools, in contrast, salads are generally included as part of the Free and Reduced Priced or set price meal (although usually as a side dish). Currently, MCPS has about 20 salad bars in all types of schools and offers daily full meal and side salad options in all secondary schools.

We had an average of 420 responses per question (many quit mid-survey), which represents a response rate of 18.2% of our identified parent members, who currently number 2305. However, we did discover that about 15% of survey respondents did not have children in school. Of all people invited to take the survey (3544), we had a 13.9% response rate for completing any portion of the survey.

2015 Priorities and Progress
2014 Priorities and Progress
2013 Priorities and Progress


". . . it's great that [MCPS is] serving healthier types of pizza, hamburgers, etc., but I want my kids to be excited about delicious and nutritious meals that don't fall into one of these junk food categories. At home, we serve home-cooked meals almost exclusively, but we'd like that message to be reinforced at school also."
- Brad Behr, MCPS Parent

"I teach high school and the students are begging for healthier choices--especially the kids who receive free and reduced meals. Their options are limited."

- An MCPS teacher

"Please no more chicken nuggets, pizza, fries and other junk foods. Positive peer pressure can help some kids open up to new, healthier foods. School is a good opportunity for that." - An RFKM Supporter

         Copyright © 2017   Chesapeake Institute for Local Sustainable Food and Agriculture (RFKM's fiscal sponsor)