Falls Church City Public Schools Strives to Receive National Magna Award
POSTED: 5:00 a.m. EST, January 03, 2010
Contact: Joan Wodiska, School Board Chairman
Recognizing that its groundbreaking effort to provide healthy meals to all students, particularly those who qualify for free and reduced price lunches can serve as a national model for school districts across the nation, the Falls Church City School Board has submitted its “Access to Healthy Meals” program for Magna Award consideration. The Magna Awards, a National School Boards Association effort, is the most prestigious recognition a school board can receive for its work.
“Falls Church stands as a national leader in providing healthy meals each and every school day to our students, regardless of their economic situation,” School Board Chairman Joan Wodiska said. “We believe the School Board’s leadership to create the “Access to Healthy Meals” program could serve as a model for school districts, demonstrating the strength of a united community and the importance and impact of healthy eating.”
Access to Healthy Meals builds on a commitment first launched by the Falls Church City School Board in 2006. Then, the Board sought to improve nutritional quality and unanimously banned junk food and regulated vending. In 2008, the School Board sought to improve meal participation and again unanimously adopted efforts to provide free lunches to every student eligible for reduced-price meals.
By doing so, the School Board helped eliminate the stigma of free and reduced price lunch, adopting a bold and financially sound policy that protected student confidentiality while providing healthy, high-quality meals to all students in the division. From 2007 to 2010, the number of reduced price meals in Falls Church increased by 49 percent, and the overall number of meals served increased by 33 percent.
Under the Falls Church City Public Schools Access to Healthy Meals effort, the school division:
- Eliminated all fried foods and began using whole grains in food preparation
- Installed salad bars at the high school
- Now makes 75 percent of all meals in elementary schools from scratch, while ensuring that 95 percent of fruits and vegetables provided to students are fresh
- Provides “to-go” meals for student athletes prepared to coaches’ specifications
- Established partnerships with culinary schools to test foods, demonstrate cooking, and promote wellness
- Conducted poster and video contests and student cooking competitions across schools
- Identified new vendors that met policy expectations
- Initiated safe walking routes to schools, while integrating physical education and health curricula into efforts
Richard Kane, FCCPS’ Food Services Coordinator, spearheads the successful program. Working with the School Board, Kane and division officials implemented a program that reduced administrative costs to the City while expanding meal access and increasing revenue from meal sales in the schools. Kane’s efforts have also helped potentially increase state and federal aid for Fall Church’s school meals program, as such aid is largely based on free and reduced-price meal participation.
Parents can apply at any time during the school year for free or reduced price meals. The process is confidential and qualified students are not identified in any way as they go through the lunch line. To apply for free or reduced price meals, visit the FCCPS Food Services website - www.fccps.org/lunch
The National School Boards Association will announce Magna Award winners in March, and will honor Magna recipients at its national conference in April.