Exciting News for School Wellness in Washington, D.C.
- D.C. selected to phase in community eligibility option for school meals, making it easier for high-poverty schools to serve school meals.
- Members of the D.C. Healthy Schools and Youth Commission appointed.
D.C. Hunger Solutions is excited to share two recent developments that positively impact student wellness. Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that D.C. is one of four states selected to phase in the community eligibility option for school meals. Community Eligibility allows schools in which at least 40 percent of students are directly certified for free meals to offer meals at no charge to all students without collecting paper applications. Designed to make it easier for high-poverty schools to get meals to low-income children, the option will reduce paperwork and free up funds for better school meals.
According to Sandy Schlicker, Director, Wellness and Nutrition Services, Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), whose team wrote the winning application for USDA’s selection of the District, “we are thrilled to be selected by USDA for the Community Eligibility Option as paperwork for schools and families is dramatically reduced. Families will no longer be required to complete free and reduced-price meal applications and schools no longer will be required to certify and then verify these applications.”
This option was included in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which phases in the streamlined process over three years. Illinois, Kentucky, and Michigan were the first three states selected to participate in the Option during school year 2011-12. For school year 2012-13, USDA selected the District of Columbia, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia. Finally, all states will have the opportunity to use the option beginning school year 2014-15.
In other school news, Mayor Vincent Gray announced new appointments to the Healthy Schools and Youth Commission. This commission, which was established by the Healthy Schools Act of 2010, advises the Mayor and Council on health, wellness, and nutritional issues affecting children and schools in the District. Alex Ashbrook, the director of D.C. Hunger Solutions, was appointed to serve as the commission’s chairperson.
“I thank Mayor Gray for this appointment, and I look forward to working with the Members of the Commission, schools, teachers, families, and other District stakeholders to continue the great progress that’s been made in improving the health and well-being of children in the District since the implementation of the D.C. Healthy Schools Act,” said Ashbrook.
Other appointees to the commission are: Sandra Schlicker, Office of the State Superintendent of Education; Adele T. Fabrikant, DC Public Schools; Amy L. Nakamoto; Samia W. Altaf, Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services; Andrea L. Northup; Charneta Scott, designee of the Department of Mental Health; student representatives Dexter O. Williams; and additional members Alexandra C. Lewin-Zwerdling; Kendra C. Rowe Salas; Naomi R. DeVeaux; Cara Larson Biddle; and Jenny Backus.