The Healthy Schools Act has had a huge impact on the health and wellness of schools and students since its passage in 2010. However, policy making is dynamic and new opportunities to strengthen the Healthy Schools Act have emerged.
The Healthy Students Amendment Act (HSAA) unanimously passed in December 2018. The legislation strengthens and expands on the success of the Healthy Schools Act by:
- establishing annual subsidies for schools implementing breakfast in the classroom (a proven service model to increase school breakfast participation);
- strengthening nutrition requirements for sodium, milk, and whole grains;
- requiring vegetarian food options each week;
- establishing age-appropriate physical education and physical activity goals and encouraging school personnel to incorporate physical activity throughout the school day.
In addition, the Act encourages schools to procure food consistent with the Good Food Purchasing Program’s (GFPP) five core values: local economies, environmental sustainability, valued workforce, animal welfare, and nutrition. The Act requires DCPS to increase purchasing of food that meets GFPP standards. D.C. is the first city on the East Coast to implement a GFPP.
The Act also requires the Mayor to build a central kitchen based on OSSE’s assessment and recommendations. A central kitchen will not only improve meal quality by enabling more cooking from scratch, but also reduce vendor and transportation costs for the city. In addition, a central kitchen has the opportunity to be an economic food hub for the city, employing local residents and inviting community use.