Helping You Improve CPS’ School Meal Program

September 30, 2015

School food at Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has changed in recent years — for the better.

CPS and Healthy Schools Campaign (HSC) have been working together for the past decade to transform the district’s school meal program. We know that students who eat healthier at school and at home have better attention spans, better class participation and higher test scores. This is why CPS, HSC and other partners have been working together to ensure that positive change for school food in Chicago is meaningful, sustainable and in the best interest of the students whose health and learning it directly affects.

Parent voices are key to this work. Through HSC’s Parents United for Healthy Schools program, parents develop the knowledge and skills to help bring about health-promoting changes at their children’s schools and reinforce healthy eating habits at home. Since 2006, Parents United has been at the forefront of helping make Chicago schools healthier places for their children.

In 2013, CPS and HSC launched a series of School Food 101 workshops to raise awareness of the new changes to the school meal program, increase understanding of school meal basics and hear about how those changes are being implemented at the school level. We asked elementary school parents to survey their kids about the school meals they were receiving. From this learning process, CPS and HSC launched a comprehensive school meal survey for parents in the fall of 2014. The results from this survey made it clear that parents and school administrators needed more resources and information and ways to share their feedback.

It’s with that need in mind that CPS and HSC partnered to create new resources around school food. We created a Principal Toolkit that educates principals about what decisions they can make to ensure the school meal program is working as well as it can for their schools. We also created Frequently Asked Questions and School Food Checklist documents for parents to help them learn about the school meal program and evaluate how their child’s school is meeting the school meal program requirements.

We unveiled these resources to a group of parent leaders involved in Parents United for Healthy Schools. At that same meeting, parent leaders also heard from CPS about the school meal program and were able to sample some of the district’s menu items, including meatballs and an Italian bean salad.

We’re excited for parents to use these resources, and we look forward to hearing how we can make these even better in the coming months. You can access all of these resources online. We are also working with CPS to set up on online feedback form.