Food and Nutrition Services
All District schools participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). All schools within the District are committed to offering school meals through the NSLP and SBP programs, and other applicable Federal child nutrition programs, that meet federal regulations for school meal nutrition standards.
An assurance that District guidelines for reimbursable meals are not less restrictive than regulations and guidelines issued for schools in accordance with federal law shall be provided by the Superintendent or designee.
Meals offered through the NSLP and SBP will:
- offer a variety of fruits and vegetables.
- serve only low-fat and fat-free milk except when whole or 2% is recommended for students with special nutritional needs as indicated on documentation completed by a medical professional with prescribing privileges or a registered dietitian.
- be served in portion sizes that meet NSLP and SBP requirements.
- meet current USDA nutrition requirements.
- follow ADA requirements for physician ordered special dietary requests required by the student's disability.
- be reviewed by a registered dietitian.
The Board of Education recognizes that 'good food’ is essential to health, wellness, productivity and achievement of its students, faculty, and staff. ‘Good food’ is healthy, fair, affordable, and sustainable. As a District that provides up to three meals and a snack daily, to its students, faculty, and staff, as well as to various community partners, the District has an important opportunity to ensure dollars spent on food for the District reflect community values: student wellbeing, the local economy and the environment.
Through a proposed Good Food Purchasing Policy, the Board seeks to ensure that, whenever financially feasible, foods procured and served as part of the District’s meal program:
- meet or exceed Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the United States Department of Agriculture’s menu pattern requirements for school meals.
- support health and wellness.
- ensure all participants in the food supply chain receive fair compensation, fair treatment, and are free of exploitation.
- come from state and/or regional food processing and agricultural operations
- are equitably accessible in its cultural diverse and cultural acceptability for the majority of students;
- are produced, processed, distributed, and recycled locally using the principles of environmental stewardship and the humane treatment of animals.
Students shall have unrestricted access to potable water during all meal periods.
All foods sold or served to students are produced in facilities permitted by the Allegheny County Health Department. All food service locations will be inspected at a minimum of once annually by the Allegheny County Health Department and throughout the year by the food service supervisory staff. The food service staff shall complete annual training and maintain ServSafe certifications.
Nutrition professionals who meet hiring criteria established by the District and in compliance with federal regulations shall administer the school meals program. Professional development and continuing education shall be provided for District nutrition staff, as required by federal regulations.
Schools will provide adequate time to eat school meals, meaning that students will be allowed at least 10 minutes to eat breakfast and at least 20 minutes to eat lunch, counting from the time they have received their meal and are seated. Consideration will be given to the needs of different age groups, such as younger children who have specific developmental needs related to meals.
Further, students may not be separated from peers or class during the breakfast or lunch period for more than one (1) day because of a stated health and safety risk.
The District is committed to ensuring that all foods and beverages available to students on the school campus during the school day support healthy eating. Foods and beverages sold on school campus during the school day outside of the school meal programs are considered “competitive foods.” Competitive foods and beverages include items sold as à la carte and in vending machines, school stores and snack or food carts, as well as any food-based fundraising meant for consumption during the school day.
The District requires that all foods and beverages sold outside of the school meal programs during the school day and during the extended school day (including during out-of-school time/and any school-related or school-based activities before and after school) will, at a minimum, meet the United States Department of Agriculture Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards. Smart Snacks aim to improve student health and wellbeing, increase consumption of healthful foods during the school day, and create an environment that reinforces the development of healthy eating habits.
A summary of the standards and information are available on the district’s Food Service Internet site. These standards will apply in all locations and through all services where foods and beverages are sold, which may include, but are not limited to, a la carte options in cafeterias, vending machines, school stores, and snack or food carts. The standards do not apply on weekends and at off-campus fundraising events.
To the extent possible, venues outside the cafeteria (e.g., vending machines, snack bars, or food carts) where food is available will offer fruits and non-fried vegetables.
For purposes of this policy, school campus means any area of property under the jurisdiction of the school that students may access during the school day.
For purposes of this policy, school day means the period from midnight before school begins until thirty (30) minutes after the end of the official school day.
Foods and beverages that meet or exceed the USDA Smart Snacks in Schools nutrition standards may be sold through fundraisers on the school campus during the school day. A maximum of five (5) exempt fundraisers in each elementary and middle school (K-8) per year, and a maximum of ten (10) exempt fundraisers will be permitted in each high school building (9-12) will be permitted each year. Each fundraiser may not exceed one (1) school week. Exempt fundraisers may not be sold in the food service areas during the meal period.
Schools must keep a record of all exempt fundraisers to assure they are not exceeding the yearly limits. Fundraising records must be kept on file for four (4) years and made available upon request.
The District will make available to parents and schools a list of healthy fundraising ideas. Fundraisers occurring after the school day are held to Smart Snack standards.
The District requires that fundraising, including activities such as donation nights at restaurants, cookie dough, candy and pizza sales and market days during the school day and during the extended school day (including during out-of-school time/and any school-related or school-based activities before and after school) sell only non-food items or foods and beverages that meet or exceed Smart Snacks requirements. The District encourages schools to use fundraisers that promote physical activity (e.g., walk-a-thons, Jump Rope for Heart or fun runs). The District will make available to caregivers and all school and school-based out-of-school time staff a list of healthy fundraising ideas.
Non-Sold Competitive Foods and Classroom Celebrations
Celebrations and positive reinforcement are an important part of our District’s culture of supporting students. Foods provided within the school by way of third parties (i.e., parents or guardians of students within the school) should meet the standards set forth by the USDA Smart Snacks regulations.
The District will make available to parents lists of recommended foods to parents, teachers, and guardians that meet these nutrition standards. The District requires that all foods and beverages served and offered on the school campus outside of the school meal programs during the school day and during the extended school day (including during out-of-school time/and any school-related or school-based activities before and after school) will, at a minimum, meet Smart Snacks guidelines.
The District will make available for caregivers and all school and school-based out-of-school time staff:
- A list of healthy and non-food party ideas
- A list of foods and beverages that meet Smart Snacks
- A list of healthy and non-food rewards.
Health and wellness efforts are weakened when students are subjected to advertising on District property that promotes unhealthy foods and beverages. In-school marketing of food and beverage items must meet the standards set forth by the USDA Smart Snacks guidelines.
The District is committed to teaching students to make informed choices about nutrition, health and physical activity and to providing a school environment that ensures opportunities for all students to practice healthy eating and physical activity behaviors.
The HHFKA requires policies for food and beverage marketing that allow marketing and advertising of only those foods and beverages that meet the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards.
Nutrition Education & Promotion
Nutrition promotion and education positively influence lifelong eating behaviors by using evidence-based techniques and nutrition messages, and by creating food environments that encourage healthy nutrition choices and encourage participation in school meal programs. Students and staff will receive consistent nutrition messages throughout schools, classrooms, gymnasiums, and cafeterias. The District will ensure the promotion of healthy food and beverage choices through school announcements, newsletters, and website postings.
Food Service will invite students to participate in the development and selection of new menu items. The District may utilize tools such as focus groups, tastes tests, food shows, or surveys to engage students.
Using food as a reward or withholding food as a punishment undermines healthy eating habits and interferes with children’s ability to self-regulate their eating. Neither food nor beverages are to be withheld from students as punishment. This includes the restriction of foods or beverages for any reason and the shortening or elimination of mealtimes. District Staff shall not prohibit students from purchasing a la carte items offered in school cafeterias or limit student choices from school meal programs.
Special Dietary Needs
School food service staff shall accommodate the nutritional needs of students who have medically required dietary restrictions upon the presentation of a diet order signed by a licensed health care provider with prescribing privileges or a registered dietitian. This diet order will be shared with the Registered Dietitian, the relevant food service staff, and the school nurse. School nurse will share diet information with appropriate and necessary school staff at their discretion. This diet order must be updated annually.
Free, safe and unflavored drinking water is available to students during the school day and during the extended school day (including during out-of-school time and any school-related or school-based activities before and after school) without restriction. Water cups are available in the cafeteria if a drinking fountain is not present. Students are permitted to bring empty water bottles or sealed water bottles before, during and after the school day. All water sources and containers (e.g., drinking fountains, water jugs, hydration stations and water jets) will be maintained regularly to ensure adherence to health and safety standards.
Students and staff will be encouraged and have access to wash or sanitize their hands before and after eating. Signage will be posted at hand washing stations to wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Hand washing stations will be equipped with soap, single use paper towels, hot and cold water.