POLICY DATABASE
Policy Summary

The law establishes a comprehensive approach to supporting a health and wellness in schools (including public, participating private, and charter schools, and the Summer Food Service Program) by establishing nutrition standards for school meals and Summer Food Service Program meals/snacks (including vending, fundraising, and prizes); providing for extra reimbursement for meals that voluntarily meet the nutrition standards prior to the July 2022 deadline and/or that include a locally-grown component; providing for free breakfast for all students and free lunch for students that qualify for reduced price meals; alternative breakfast serving models (such as breakfast in the classroom); encourage school gardens; support environmentally related concerns such as recycling, composting, water quality testing for lead, environmental literacy, and the like; increasing physical activity; and supporting implementation of school wellness policies and establishment of health centers in schools, regardless of the size of the nurse's office. To support and help fund these activities, the law also establishes a Healthy Schools Fund, funded by annual appropriations.

Background Information

State District of Columbia
Jurisdiction Name Washington DC
Jurisdiction Type Other, .
Population Size 200,000-800,000
Legal Strategies
  • Creates a fund, enables access to a funding stream
  • Requires something, sets standards
Reach Community-wide
Food System Category Distribute; Get;

Policy Details

Refers to priority populations?
Yes

Summer Food Service Program (Sec. 38–821.02(c )(1)), students qualifying for reduced-price meals (Sec. 38–821.02(c)(3)); Sec. 38-822.03 (a)(2) requires that schools that have more than 40% of kids qualify for free and reduced lunch, the free breakfast should be served in the classroom or at other convenient locations.

Health-related goal?
Yes

Chapter is called "Healthy Schools" and refers to health throughout. E.g., establishes nutrition standards for school meals; requires healthy vending and fundraisers; has a section on "Health and Wellness," and creates a "Healthy Youth and Schools Commission."

Environmental goal?
Yes

Refers to "locally grown" foods (Sec. 38-821.01 (3);and defintion of "sustainable agriculture" includes practices that: "Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends" and "Make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls." (Sec. 38-821.01 (9) (B) and (C)). Devotes an entire section (Sec. 38-825) to creating framework for supporting recycling and composting, testing water for lead, using environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, etc.

Economic goal?
Yes

Definition of "sustainable agriculture" includes practices that: "Sustain the economic viability of farm operations" (Sec. 38-821.01 9 (D)). Law provides for additional reimbursement to schools for meals served during school and the Summer Food Service Program that meet specified nutritional standards before the standards become required on July 1, 2022, with even higher reimbursement to eliminate the copay for kids who qualify for reduced-price meals; and provides for a $.05 reimbursement for meals that include a locally-grown component. (Sections 38-821.02 (c) and 38-822.02).

Includes findings?
No

Has a stated intent or purpose?
No

Includes definitions?
Yes

Sec. 38–821.01

Addresses implementation?
Yes

The Mayor shall issue rules to implement the chapter (Sec. 38-828.01). There also are implementation provisions throughout. E.g, process for implementing the breakfast-in-the-classroom program (Sec. 38-821.02(c )(4)); setting nutrition standards that exceed the minimum requirements (Sec. 38–822.02(c)); Subchapter V (relating to environmental programs).

Enforcement provisions?
Yes

For failure to comply with the healthy vending, fundraising, and prizes requirements: "A warning will be issued, then may impose a penalty not more than $500 per day paid to the Healthy Schools Fund." (Sec. 38–822.06(g)). Also, Sec. 38-821.02 (e) states: The Office of the State Superintendent of Education may withhold local funds provided by subsection (c) of this section from public schools and public charter schools that do not meet any or all of the requirements of §§ 38-822.02, 38-822.03, 38-822.05, and 38-822.06.

Evaluation component?
Yes

There are multiple provisions requring assessment, including but not limited to: "The Healthy Schools and Youth Commission shall review school nutrition and the requirements of this title at least every 3 years and recommend improvements to the Mayor and the Council." (Sec. 38–822.07); mandatory reporting to the Commission re: farm to school initiatives on or before June 30 of each year (Sec. 38–823.03); mandatory reporting regarding "Student achievement with respect to health and physical education standards" (Sec. 38-824.05 (2); Mayor was required in 2012 to submit "a comprehensive report describing the implementation of recycling, composting, energy-reduction, pest management, air quality, and environmentally friendly cleaning supplies programs in public schools" including reporting on "Baseline energy usage, an analysis of usage patterns, and savings achieved" and "Recommendations and a timeline for further implementing these programs" (Sec. 38-825.01 (c ) (2)-(3)).

Requires extra investment?
Yes

Sec. 38-825 requires the Department of General Services to establish an environmental programs office, and the Office of the State Superintendent of Schools to establish an environmental literacy program, and a school gardens program. Also, the law provides for free breakfast for all students, free lunch for children who qualify for reduced price meals; and provides additional reimbursement to schools for meals that voluntarily meet specified nutrition standards before the standards become required on July 1, 2022, and for meals that include a locally grown component (Sec. 38-822.03, and Sec. 38-821.02 (c) (1), (3-5), and (8)). Law also provides for competitive grants to be made available (if funds are available) to schools to increase physical activity and for school gardens (Sec. 38-821.02 (c) (6)-(7)).

Code context and ordinance history