Studies have shown that what children eat can greatly impact their ability to concentrate and learn in the classroom. Because students consume at least two-thirds of their calories at school, schools have a responsibility to provide healthy foods and beverages promote student nutrition and better learning. The Office of Student Health and Wellness works to ensure all foods and beverages provided on school grounds are nutritious.
Each day, CPS serves nearly 390,000 meals per day totaling 70 million meals each year. All meals are served in compliance with city, state and federal regulations.The CPS Local School Wellness Policy ensures that:
- All school meals are free for all students through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP)
- All meals served as part of the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs meet current federal, state and local nutrition requirements.
- CPS has developed district specific guidelines that exceed requirements set forth by USDA.
- Students are offered a variety of age-appropriate, healthy and appealing food and beverage choices.
- CPS has committed to purchasing foods grown within 250 miles of Chicago and serves fresh local one time per month, frozen local every week, and chicken raised without antibiotics twice per month. For more information on the district’s efforts for local procurement, visit www.cpsfarmtoschoolmarket.com.
By creating nutrition standards based on national best practices to improve school breakfast and lunch programs, the Office of Student Health and Wellness is taking an important step in creating healthy environments and supporting healthy students.
Discover the current Food of the Month or check out what’s on the menu this week!
For more information about school meals, including menus, rates and summer meals, see the Department of Nutrition Support Services.
Snacks and Beverages in School
Healthy snacks can improve students’ concentration in the classroom. The Office of Student Health and Wellness and Nutrition Support Services requires that all food served or sold on school grounds outside of the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs (including a la carte options, school stores, and vending machines) are held to the same high nutritional standards as food served during breakfast and lunch. There are three standard rules that can be applied to foods being served or sold on school grounds:
- No food may be offered or sold in place of a school meal (i.e. NO pizza parties, Subway parties, etc. in place of lunch).
- The school day is defined as 12:00am (midnight) to 30 minutes after dismissal.
- All foods provided to students on school grounds, to be consumed during the school day, must meet the nutrition requirements outlined in the Healthy Snack and Beverage Policy.
- These policies do not apply to food from home for individual consumption
- Schools are allowed up to two school-wide unhealthy food celebrations
- All food brought to be shared must be store bought with an ingredients label
- Only CPS dining staff may utilize equipment in the dining center (i.e. refrigerator, freezer, warmers, stove). Administrators, teachers, parents and students should not use kitchen equipment at any time.
For more information, download the Healthy Snack and Beverage Policy. To see the list of approved school snacks (or to get some ideas for your own snacking!) check out the Healthy Snack List.
Birthday parties and holiday celebrations at school provide a unique opportunity to make healthy eating fun and exciting to students. The CPS Healthy Snack and Beverage Policy limits the use of unhealthy foods for student celebrations. Specifically, the policy sets the following standards:
- Dining staff should never be requested or prevented from preparing meals except in the case of student field trips.
- Schools are allowed up to two school-wide unhealthy food celebrations that must be submitted to the Network Chief and the Office of Student Health Wellness
- Classroom celebrations should focus on fun not food.
You can do your part by encouraging your child’s school to celebrate with non-food activities or healthy foods. Popular celebration ideas include:
- Creating a crown, badge or sash for your child to wear on his/her birthday
- Bringing in your child’s favorite book to read to the class.
- Celebrating special days with a festive dance party
- Take a field trip to a local farmer’s market where children can meet farmers and learn about local fruits and vegetables.
- Find more ideas here!
- All CPS fundraisers must be approved by the Network Chief.
- All foods sold at school during the school day must meet the Healthy Snack and Beverage Policy nutrition requirements.
- School fundraising activities that begin 30 min after the scheduled end of the school day are not bound by these policies (i.e. sporting events, family nights, student clubs, etc.)
Fundraising is important for every school. Fundraisers that involve either healthy food choices or non-food items can yield high profits and build a sense of community. Instead of the annual cookie or candy bar sale, encourage your child’s school to try some of these great fundraising ideas:
- Get everyone moving with a Walk-A-Thon, Dance-A-Thon, or 5K race
- Sell plants or flowers, gift wrap supplies or singing telegrams
- Clean out your house and make money for your school with a community flea market
- Offer Out of Uniform Days for a small fee
- Organize a school dance
Have a great idea for a healthy celebration or fundraiser? Join your child’s School Wellness Team!
- Food may not be withheld from any student for any reason.
- Food is not permitted to be used as a reward (incentives offered to students in recognition of good behavior or performance).
- In the case of student detention, students should be allowed to go through the dining center service line and select a meal.