The Allegany County Public School System is committed to insuring all schools promote and protect the health, well-being and achievement of all students and employees. One component of coordinated school health states that the school food services program will provide nutritious and appealing means in an environment that promotes healthy dietary behaviors which will maximize each child's education and health potential for life.
Nutrition Policy, Goals and Guidelines
A healthy school environment includes the participation of the School Food and Nutrition Services Department regarding foods and beverages available to students during the school day. School systems that participate in the School Breakfast Program and the National School Lunch Program are required to abide by Federal and State regulations regarding service and delivery practices for foods and beverages in schools.
Schools play a powerful role in influencing student behavior. Dietary habits that contribute to student learning and lifelong health are influenced at school. School Meals programs, nutrition education, health and physical education programs help students build a foundation for a healthy lifestyle. The school environment must strengthen this foundation by encouraging children to make healthy choices.
In the interest of influencing student behavior regarding healthy food choices:
- All Allegany County Public School cafeterias will prepare and serve school meals that will meet the nutrition standards established by the USDA and the MSDE. All food and beverages offered to students during the school day will meet the current standards defined in MSDE Management and Operations Memorandum #12
- All elementary, middle and high schools will refrain from selling items on the USDA list of foods of minimal nutritional value during the school day (see MOM #12)
- Principals will work with teachers and school organizations to minimize the use of candy and other food as a reward system for students. In order to encourage good nutrition and good food choices, school organizations will be encouraged to find sources of revenue other than the sale of foods of minimal nutritional value
- Only the school principal or designee can grant permission for members of the school staff to provide food from sources other than the Allegany County Public School cafeterias to students during the school day
The goal is to educate by example and encourage students to take responsibility for making the best choices for their individual lifestyles and activity levels.
Meals served through the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs will:
- be appealing and attractive to children
- be served in clean and pleasant settings
- meet, at a minimum, nutrition requirements established by local, state, and federal statutes and regulations
- offer a variety of fruits and vegetables
- serve only low-fat (1-2%) and skim milk3 and nutritionally-equivalent non-dairy alternatives (to be defined by USDA)
- ensure that half of the served grains are whole grain.
Schools should, through the Nutrition Advisory Council, engage in taste-tests of new entrees and surveys, in selecting foods sold through the school meal programs in order to identify new, healthful, and appealing food choices. In addition, schools should share information about the nutritional content of meals with parents and students.
To encourage all children to have breakfast and lunch, either at home or at school, in order to meet their nutritional needs and enhance their ability to learn:
- Schools will, to the extent possible, operate the Maryland Meals for Achievement, the School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs.
- Schools will, to the extent possible, arrange bus schedules and utilize methods to serve school breakfasts that encourage participation, including serving breakfast in the classroom.
- Schools that serve breakfast to students will notify parents and students of the availability of the School Breakfast Program.
- Schools will encourage parents to provide a healthy breakfast for their children through newsletter articles, take-home materials, or other means.
Free and Reduced-priced Meals
Schools will make every effort to eliminate any social stigma attached to, and prevent the overt identification of, students who are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals. Toward this end, schools may utilize electronic identification and payment systems; promote the availability of school meals to all students who qualify; and/or use nontraditional methods for serving school meals.
Summer Food Service Program
Schools in which more than 50% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals will sponsor the Summer Food Service Program for at least six weeks between the last day of the academic school year and the first day of the following school year, and preferably throughout the entire summer vacation.
Meal Times and Scheduling Schools
- will provide students with at least 10 minutes to eat after sitting down for breakfast and 20 minutes after sitting down for lunch
- should schedule meal periods at appropriate times, e.g., lunch should be scheduled between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
- should not schedule tutoring, club, or organizational meetings or activities during mealtimes, unless students may eat during such activities
- will schedule recess periods in conjunction with lunch (in elementary schools)
- will provide students access to hand washing or hand sanitizing before they eat meals or snacks
- should take reasonable steps to accommodate the tooth-brushing regimens of students with special oral health needs (e.g., orthodontia or high tooth decay risk).
Qualifications of School Food Service Staff
Qualified nutrition professionals will administer the school meal programs. As part of the school district's responsibility to operate a food service program, we will provide continuing professional development for all nutrition professionals in schools. Staff development programs should include appropriate certification and/or training programs for child nutrition directors, school nutrition managers, and cafeteria workers, according to their levels of responsibility.
Sharing of Foods and Beverages
Schools should discourage students from sharing their foods or beverages with one another during meal or snack times, given concerns about allergies and other restrictions on some children's diets.
Foods and Beverages Sold Individually (i.e., foods sold outside of reimbursable school meals, such as through vending machines, cafeteria a la carte [snack] lines, fundraisers, school stores, etc.)
- Elementary Schools The school food service program will approve and provide all food and beverage sales to students in elementary schools. Given young children's limited nutrition skills, food in elementary schools should be sold as balanced meals. If available, foods and beverages sold individually should be limited to low-fat and non-fat milk, fruits, and non-fried vegetables. All elementary schools will refrain from selling items on the USDA list of foods of minimal nutritional value during the school day. (MOM #12)
- Middle/Junior High and High Schools In middle/junior high and high schools, all foods and beverages sold individually outside the reimbursable school meal programs (including those sold through a la carte [snack] lines, vending machines, student stores, or fundraising activities) during the school day, or through programs for students after the school day, will meet the following nutrition and portion size standards. All middle and high schools will refrain from selling items on the USDA list of foods of minimal nutritional value during the school day. (MOM #12)
Principals will work with teachers and school organizations to minimize the use of candy and other food as a reward system for students. In order to encourage good nutrition and good food choices, school organizations will be encouraged to find sources of revenue other than the sale of foods of minimal nutritional value.
Snacks served during the school day or in after-school care or enrichment programs will make a positive contribution to children's diets and health, with an emphasis on serving fruits and vegetables as the primary snacks and water as the primary beverage. Schools will assess if and when to offer snacks based on timing of school meals, children's nutritional needs, children's ages, and other considerations. A list of healthful snack items will be available to teachers, after-school program personnel, and parents upon request.
Principals will work with teachers and school organizations to minimize the use of candy and other food as a reward system for students.
Nutrition Education and Promotion
The Allegany County Schools aim to teach, encourage, and support healthy eating by students. Schools should provide nutrition education and engage in nutrition promotion that:
- is offered at each grade level as part of a sequential, comprehensive, standards-based program designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to promote and protect their health
- is part of not only health education classes, but also classroom instruction in subjects such as math, science, language arts, social sciences, and elective subjects
- includes enjoyable, developmentally-appropriate, culturally-relevant, participatory activities, such as contests, promotions, taste testing, farm visits, and school gardens
- promotes fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, healthy food preparation methods, and health-enhancing nutrition practices
- emphasizes caloric balance between food intake and energy expenditure (physical activity/exercise)
- links with school meal programs, other school foods, and nutrition-related community services
- teaches media literacy with an emphasis on food marketing
- includes training for teachers and other staff.
Food Marketing in Schools
School-based marketing will be consistent with nutrition education and health promotion. As such, schools will limit food and beverage marketing to the promotion of foods and beverages that meet the nutrition standards for meals or for foods and beverages sold individually. School-based marketing of brands promoting predominantly low-nutrition foods and beverages is discouraged.