New Report Provides Pathways to Excellence in School Nutrition
Chicago Public Schools' Pathways to Excellence in School Nutrition
Every Chicago Public School student should have access to tasty, nutritious and affordable meals enjoyed in a pleasant environment.
Changing the school food environment is a complicated task. Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, the federal government significantly raised the nutritional standards for school meals while at the same time requiring schools to meet these standards with limited financial resources and other constraints. Adding to the challenge facing food service is the fact that many students are reluctant to accept the healthier menus.
In addition, Chicago is faced with serious fiscal challenges that require a focus on operational efficiency—doing more with less. The issue of healthy school meals is of great importance given that more than 85% of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students are low-income and qualify for federally subsidized meals, with many of these students relying on schools for most of their meals. At the same time, 43.3% of Chicago students are overweight or obese, making healthy school meals a critical component of Chicago’s overall effort to address the childhood obesity epidemic.
Faced with fiscal challenges and the health needs of students, CPS convened two advisory groups, one comprised of citywide stakeholders and the other comprised of parents from across the district, to develop action plans for continued efforts to provide healthy school food in a fiscally responsible way. Based on these efforts, HSC prepared Chicago Public Schools' Pathways to Excellence in School Nutrition, a report that organizes the action plans into 10 pathways around excellence in school food.
Food + Health
Goal: To offer nutritious school meals that are appealing to students.
Goal: To support the procurement of local and sustainably grown products. To find new products that are healthier and less processed.
Teaching + Learning
Goal: To deepen students’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes related to where food comes from; how it is produced; and the connections between food, health, and the environment.
Goal: To involve CPS parents and the broader community in the efforts to improve school meals by providing engagement opportunities, including educational opportunities that will raise awareness, understanding and support for the school meals program.
Marketing + Communications
Goal: To successfully promote healthy meal programs and meaningful learning environments to parents and students.
The Dining Experience
Goal: To create an inviting dining ambience that encourages healthy interaction and healthy eating—a place that students enjoy, that makes the lunch period a time they look forward to, and that helps them feel safe and valued at mealtime.
Goal: To provide nutrition services staff with the professional training and support they need to offer meals featuring fresh and local food and to teach students about the relationship between food, health, and the environment.
Goal: To have kitchen facilities that support the cooking of healthy and less processed meals.
Goal: To ensure that the school meal program is fiscally sound.
Goal: To reduce waste and help students understand the need to conserve natural resources.