The nutrition advocacy group Real Food for Kids is applauding Fairfax County for putting out a proposal request with the goal to make school lunches healthier.
On June 29, Fairfax County released the request for proposals, or RFP, for the school board’s directed assessment of the Food and Nutrition Services. The objective of the $200,000 assessment is to identify cost-effective ways of making school food healthier by increasing the amount of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and striving to eliminate processed foods.
Under U.S. Department of the Agriculture regulations, Food and Nutrition Services funds may only be used for the operation or improvement of school food services. The school board’s decision to obtain an assessment does not reduce the school operating fund, which is used to pay for teachers, aides, textbooks and other instructional expenses.
Real Food For Kids has been working to encourage Fairfax County Public Schools to provide healthier, more appetizing whole foods made from scratch. Ryan McElveen, an at-large school board member, said in a statement that “This study has the potential to both improve our school food offerings and, perhaps more importantly, help students realize the importance of healthy food in their lives. The fact that the School Board, school staff and Real Food For Kids advocates have partnered to craft this assessment speaks volumes to the progress that can be made in the coming years by working together.”
McElveen and Hunter Mill District member Pat Hynes worked with the county to develop the RFP.
"This study will give us a chance to model how a large, self-sustaining school food service operation can move decisively from highly-processed meals toward more healthy, whole foods,” Hynes said in a statement. “This is a collaborative effort among the school board, FCPS Food and Nutrition Services leadership and parent advocates. I look forward to getting the study off the ground!"
JoAnne Hammermaster, president of Real Food For Kids, expressed her gratitude for the support of the school board. “We applaud the efforts of Ryan McElveen and Pat Hynes, whose work on producing the RFP has brought us one step closer to providing FCPS children with more nutritious food,” she said in a statement.