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District of Columbia (US) Healthy Schools Act is an inspiration!

Article by Sunday Harrison

I’ve been reading about the most comprehensive legislation I’ve ever seen supporting healthy food and healthy environments in schools. It is the D.C. Healthy Schools Act, passed in 2010. Here’s one of the infographics:


And upcoming is a celebration that last year included:

– 62 schools participated nearly 10,000 students involved – 34 chefs demos reaching over 1000 students involved – 4 teacher workshops – 2 Best School Garden Awardees

DC Growing Healthy Schools Week (Oct. 22-26)

“Growing Healthy Schools Week celebrates school gardens and farm to school programs throughout the district. During the week, school staff work with local non-profits, farms and chefs to coordinate inspiring activities aimed at engaging students in a conversation about seasonality, plant cultivation, and nutrition.”

Wow. Did I have a good dream? Pinch me! But – hey, even here in Ontario, there’s hope! As our government considers its proposed Local Food Act, and the idea of integrating food literacy into this legislation, here’s a great model legislative framework. I reproduce this infographic below, but really, you need to read the Act to see how sweeping the vision is. Everything from universal free breakfast to LEED-certified school buildings, a Healthy Youth and Schools Commission, physical activity requirements, an Environmental Literacy Plan, provision of wellness policies that include sustainability and farm-to-school initiatives – and school gardens. Here’s a snapshot of the Act as it concerns school gardens:

HSA Requirements – School Gardens Program Under section 503 of HSA, OSSE is to establish a School Gardens Program which shall:

  1. Coordinate the efforts of community organizations and District agencies, as well as the District of Columbia Public Schools and the Public Charter School Board to establish gardens as integral components of public schools and public charter schools;

  2. Establish and convene a Garden Advisory Committee composed of community organizations, District government agencies, and other interested persons;

  3. Collect data on location and types of school gardens;

  4. Provide horticultural guidance and technical assistance to schools;

  5. Coordinate curricula for school gardens and related projects;

  6. Provide training, support, and assistance to school gardens; (incl. grants of up to $10,000 – ed)

  7. Assist schools in receiving certification as U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools;

  8. Work with UDC to provide technical expertise, curricula, and soil testing for schools gardens; and

  9. Establish a demonstration compost pile when feasible.

Now do you see why I’m so stoked? Looks amazing. I would love to go on the Bicycle Tour of School Gardens during Growing Healthy Schools Week!

Here’s another nice infographic to share about the DC Healthy Schools Act but seriously – check out the Act itself. Great work DC!

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