Earth Day Network and Partners Honored for Healthy Schools Work

Earlier this morning, Earth Day Network and several of its D.C. metro-area partners were honored for their work promoting the health and well-being of children and school nutrition in the District. Specifically, D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh hosted Earth Day Network staff and others for their success in achieving record growth and participation in the District's School Breakfast Program.

Recently, District students demonstrated a 32 percent increase in school breakfast participation in just one year, placing D.C. first among all states in reaching children with breakfast. This success is largely due to city efforts to implement the D.C. Healthy Schools Act and improve breakfast participation, including a focus on getting more schools to serve breakfast in the classroom.

The D.C.Healthy Schools Act has also had a major impact in improving the nutritional quality of meals in the District. Earth Day Network, D.C. Hunger Solutions, D.C. Farm to School and others led the original efforts in 2010 to help draft, pass, fully fund and save the Act – now considered one of the most progressive pieces of healthy schools legislation ever passed by a municipality.

Some additional highlights include:

  • The District’s 34 percent growth in school breakfast participation yielded an additional 7,400 students eating breakfast each day.
  • Middle Schools reporting that students received 107 minutes, on average, of physical education each week – more than doubling the year one goal.
  • The city’s hiring of a school garden specialist and commitment to fund school gardens.
  • More than 90% of schools serve lunch components that meet the Healthy Schools Act lunch menu criteria including among others:
    • A different vegetable each day of the week.
    • Fresh fruit at least twice a week.
    • Whole grains at least once a day.
  • 65% of schools, at least once a month, serve locally grown food from growers engaged in sustainable agricultural practices.
  • Students in grades 6-8 received an average of 53 minutes per week of health education, not only more than doubling the year one requirement, but also falling only 22 minutes short of meeting the 2014-2015 requirement of 75 minutes per week.
  • 52.4% of schools either already have, or have started planning for a garden.

During the morning's proceedings, a healthy “Breakfast in the Council” was delivered by the Kimball Elementary School Breakfast Team to participating attendees and City Council members, in addition to a ceremonial resolution being presented and adopted by the D.C. Council that applauds the District’s work on access to nutritious school meals.