The USDA has begun accepting comments on two related school food issues:
(1) whether schools should have “flexibility” with things like serving whole grains, and
(2) what should count as part of each school meal (also called “food crediting”).
The comment process. . . (read more at the link above!)
Please join us at Tyler Elementary on Saturday, September 23 at noon for the next meeting of the DC School Food Project! Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org and spread the word far and wide! If you know of anybody — a parent, a teacher, a student, a food service worker, a health advocate, an anti-hunger warrior, a businessperson, or anybody else who might be interested, please invite them along.
At the meeting we will prioritize our agenda for moving forward, including:
- hosting no-cost monthly wellness workshops to support community health education
- advocating for the integration of FoodPrints recipes in the school meal rotation
- supporting the community push to participate in the Good Food Purchasing Program
- making good on the Healthy Schools Act mandate to create a central kitchen facility
- preparing for the DC City Council hearing on November 16
We also have a number of specific jobs and positions within the organization to divvy up, including some social media work, outreach in the schools, liaising with Council, bridging to DCPS, and more.
We hope to see you on the 23rd! There’s much to be done.
Let’s start the school year off right! How is the food at your kids’ school? What’s good? What problems are popping up?
We invite you to get involved with the DC School Food Project. We are a local group of parents, students, teachers, principals, nutritionists, policymakers, anti-hunger advocates, and community members who want our kids to have good food in our schools. The best way to make that happen is to work together.
And what does the food in Oakland, California have to do with school food in DC?
Come out on Wednesday night to ask questions of DCPS and SodexoMagic about improving the quality of food in the District.
Keep the Pressure On!
July 7, 2016
Council votes on July 12 on the Sodexo/DCPS contract. Please contact your Councilmember and ask them to DISAPPROVE!
Get a quick twitter run-down of the City Council Roundtable here
June 28, 2016
VICTORY! Thanks to your emails, tweets, and phone calls, the Chair of the Committee on Education, Councilmember David Grosso, has scheduled a roundtable on the proposed contract with SodexoMagic/Revolution Foods. The hearing will be held July 6, 2016 at 10:00AM in Room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building. Please plan to testify or submit written testimony! More details here:
Has DCPS Put Fall Meals in Jeopardy?
June 24, 2016
No contract for 2016-17 food services in the District’s public schools has been approved yet — less than two months before school begins again in August. Why?
Bids from companies were solicited by DCPS in December 2015 and submitted in January 2016. Yet as recently as June 7, 2016, DCPS indicated to one bidder that the contract situation is not yet resolved. A letter obtained from DC City Councilmember Charles Allen’s office reveals that DCPS has “rescinded” the “Notice of Non-Award” previously communicated to a bidder called Genuine Foods. It is not clear what this means, since the company has not subsequently received a “Notice of Award.” This company proposed to offer scratch-made meals to DC’s public school students, as opposed to the packaged, processed offerings typical of the other company in the running, SodexoMAGIC. But it remains unclear who is getting the contract.
You can call the Office of Food and Nutrition Services at DCPS to ask what’s going on and register your concerns: (202) 442-6133. If they take your call and speak to you, please report on your interactions in the comment box at the bottom of the page!
Where is the Contract?
June 23, 2016
DCPS announced on May 20, 2015 that it had selected SodexoMAGIC/Revolution Foods to serve 100 of its schools in the upcoming school year. Yet the DC City Council–which has to approve such a large contract–has not yet received it. Where is the contract? The DC School Food Project has contacted multiple officials at DCPS to ask this question and received no response.
The DC School Food Project has requested that Councilmember Grosso hold a hearing to determine how SodexoMAGIC and Revolution Foods were selected. Yet Mr. Grosso cannot schedule such a hearing until the contract is transmitted. So we ask again, where is the contract?
Twelve Organizations Request DC City Council Hearing into Food Procurement Process
More of the Same: DCPS Chooses SodexoMagic/Revolution Foods as Major Vendor
The D.C. School Food Project Files Request for Investigation into Food Vendor Selection Process
News Coverage of BEGA Letter:
What would allow our kids to be served the healthiest, tastiest school meals possible? Given the robust activity around the country to provide locally-sourced, taste-tested meals prepared in-house, you may imagine kind lunch ladies whipping up delicious daily offerings. Or, considering the number of eager, willing, world-renowned chefs in the DC area, you might think the city would want to capitalize on the opportunity to be a leader in school feeding.
DC Public Schools’ Office of Food and Nutrition Services continues to insist that food service companies are the best option. To this end, they have been evaluating bids from companies since December to determine which of those companies will receive the contracts to provide the District’s school meals in the upcoming year.
DCPS Continues Contract with Chartwells After $19.4 Million Settlement
Chartwells, the company that provide most DC Public School children’s school meals, has agreed to pay $19.4 million to settle a suit alleging contractual breaches. For multiple years, the suit alleges, Chartwells was paid many millions of dollars more for meals than it should have been, even while the company often delivered food late, failed to provide the full number of meals at some schools, and repeatedly served poor quality or spoiled food.
Councilmember Cheh calls on DC Auditor to investigate DCPS’s Food Service Contracts
The DC Council conducted an oversight hearing, addressing the status of food in schools.
Students from Coolidge, Wilson, Dunbar, and more testified that their cafeterias consistently run out of food, the salad bars aren’t regularly restocked, they get the same meals everyday, there are no vegetarian options as required, and staffing is inadequate.
Food Tank, in partnership with The George Washington (GW) University and (DC School Food Project’s Ivy Ken), is excited to present the 1st Annual Food Tank Summit at the Jack Morton Auditorium (former home of CNN’s Crossfire). This two-day event features more than 75 different speakers from the food and agriculture field. Researchers, farmers, chefs, policy makers, government officials, and students will come together panels on topics including; food waste, urban agriculture, family farmers, farm workers, and more.
In Washington, D.C.
- 30% of children live below the federal poverty line
- 1 in 3 children is at risk of hunger
- 20% of youth 10 to 17 are obese, ranking D.C. 9th nationwide
Ensuring quality, inspiring demand and improving access to school food is a three-fold effort to address public health concerns resulting from hunger, malnutrition, and obesity among D.C. school children and their families. More than 70 percent of District of Columbia Public School students are eligible for free and reduced price lunch, and many of these students acquire a majority of their total daily nutrition at school.
The D.C. School Food Project is an active, visionary group comprised of nutrition advocates, community leaders and concerned citizens dedicated to transforming the quality of school food beyond the requirements set forth by federal and local regulations. We emerged out of an expert community nutrition advisory committee appointed by the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) Office of Food and Nutrition Services.
May 1, 2014
What’s Happening Now: Accountability Needed at DCPS
A lawsuit filed by fired DCPS Food Services Director cites failure of DCPS administrators to hold the major for-profit food service provider Chartwells accountable for cost overruns and contract violations. This has cost District taxpayers millions of dollars each year and resulted in poorer quality food for our children. Share stories of the meals at your children’s schools.
Profitable by August 15, 2014?
In reaction to overruns paid to Chartwells-Thompson–over $10 million each year–nine members of the DC City Council signed this letter on August 15, 2012 urging Chancellor Henderson to take steps to make DCPS food services cost-neutral or even profitable within two years. They remind the Chancellor that other school districts around the country and in our own region break even or even make a profit on their food services. Will DCPS achieve this goal?
Parents to DCPS: “Keep us in the loop”
Members of the DC School Food Project reached out to DCPS in 2013 to provide input on the selection of a new Food Services Director. Despite our request to be involved in the selection, DCPS declined to meet with us and proceeded in hiring a director with employment ties to Chartwells. Read our letter to DCPS Chief of Staff Lisa Ruda here.
Urging Transparency with DCPS Food Services
The sudden departure of DCPS Food Services Director, Jeff Mills in early 2013 leaves an uncertain future for the state of school food in the District. Not only did DCPS lose a leader who advocated for more nutritious school food, but the lack of transparency surrounding Mr. Mills’ departure raises concerns about the ability to create a financially sustainable and nutritionally sound future for DCPS food services. Read a letter sent to Mayor Vincent Gray by the members of the DC School Food Project to share our concerns.
Download the Comprehensive Food Service Report prepared for the Council of the District of Columbia and the Healthy Youth and Schools Commission.