Reflecting on Three Years of CPS’s Wellness Policy

July 21, 2015

Responding to the First Lady’s challenge to the nation to address childhood obesity, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has made a major commitment to support healthy eating and physical activity for the nearly 400,000 children that attend CPS schools.

The advances that CPS is making in this area are articulated in a set of board policies most notably the new school wellness policy and the Healthy Snack and Beverage Policy, which were adopted in 2012.

The passage of the wellness policy was a big step in the right direction, but even more important is what came after the adoption: the implementation. This is the process of getting each and every CPS school to put in practice the evidence-based standards set forth in the wellness policy. And now, we have the opportunity to provide the Board of Education with feedback on how the wellness policy is at individual schools. This health promoting policy includes a provision for a three year review to be conducted to assess its impact. And we are happy to see CPS take seriously this important opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments and challenges of the wellness policy.

Healthy Schools Campaign is pleased to be partnering with the district to co-convene an advisory committee to assess the effectiveness of policy implementation, make recommendations and to share findings with the Board of Education, schools and community and key stakeholders.

HSC was instrumental in getting the district to adopt its first wellness policy in 2006 and a revamped version in 2012. We worked for years with incredible parent advocates, classroom teachers, principals and community members whose efforts to create healthy schools — one school at a time and through policy change at the district level — to build a foundation for this advance.

We want to make sure that during this important review process, we hear from you! We welcome you to share your  thoughts and experiences to make this policy even stronger. Our hope is to compile and share findings and recommendations to the board before the end of this calendar year.

  • As a reminder, the wellness policy requires that schools:
  • Offer more nutrition education
  • Form a wellness team
  • Designate someone to coordinate wellness efforts
  • Offer daily recess at all elementary schools
  • Include local procurement as part of the school food program
  • Include on each school’s progress report an indicator that tells parents and the public how effectively a school is implementing the policy
  • Cannot sell or serve unhealthy foods or beverages during the school day
  • Cannot take away recess, PE or physical activity time as a consequence

Is your school implementing these standards? We’d love to hear from you. If you have feedback on how individual schools are adopting the wellness policy and the impact it’s made, let us know. Your voice is important, and we want to hear from you. For more information, contact Rosa Ramirez Richter.