Smart Choices Toolkit

Welcome!  Healthy students are better learners. The Boston Public Schools strives to promote the health and wellness of all students to advance both their healthy development and readiness to learn. We know this is an important and impactful goal.

The Boston Public Schools has become a leader in a citywide initiative to implement healthful snack and beverage guidelines. In 2004, the Boston Public Schools was the first school district in Massachusetts to develop District Nutrition Policy and Guidelines for Vending Machines, A la carte and Competitive Foods. We are now working to implement updated guidelines that exceed Massachusetts’s new School Nutrition Law.* Last year, the BPS Food and Nutrition Services Department implemented these revised guidelines in vending machines and in cafeterias. This year, we will continue putting these guidelines into practice, creating school environments that provide access to healthful foods and beverages.

We know that students are not getting the nutrition they need. A survey of high school students in BPS showed that four out of five students do not eat the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables.†

The Smart Choices Toolkit was designed to help schools offer and promote healthful food and beverage options for students and staff. It was created with the advice of over 400 individuals: BPS staff, parents, students, teachers, principals, and out of school time coordinators, local community partners, and national experts. As you create an environment that fosters healthy choices this school year, the Smart Choices Toolkit will provide ideas for policy changes, implementation programs, sample initiatives from national and community-based organizations, examples from Boston schools, and educational materials to provide your school community.

Offering and promoting healthful options for all foods and beverages sold or provided at school can be an important challenge. To be successful, it is essential to garner support and involve school leaders, school staff, school administration, families, and students. Your hard work can really make a difference, and with guidance from the Smart Choices Toolkit, you can help make the healthy choice the easy choice in your school.

The Health and Wellness Department provides professional development opportunities for staff that want to find out more about promoting nutrition and implementing these revised guidelines. In addition to general professional development opportunities, we will provide a school direct service, including a notification letter and a technical assistance meeting, if the school is found to be out of compliance with the guidelines. If you have seen a policy violation at school, you can report it by using this Smart Choices Confidential Observation Report link below,  or by contacting M. Caitlin W. Howe at chowe2@boston.k12.ma.us.

This school year, your school will again have the opportunity to be nationally recognized for their efforts in health and wellness through the Alliance for a Healthier Generation Healthy Schools Program. Competitive foods are one component of the program’s framework, and using this toolkit will help you as your school works toward national recognition. To find out more, visit http://www.healthiergeneration.org/schools.aspx.

Thank you for making a commitment to the health of your school community by offering and promoting smart choices. We appreciate your participation as we work together to actively promote the health and wellness of all Boston Public School students to advance both their healthy development and readiness to learn.

How to use this toolkit
Your Smart choices Toolkit is divided into two categories: Principals and Wellness Councils, and Out of School Time Providers. Each category includes the following sections:

Smart Strategies. The Smart Strategies section of your Smart Choices Toolkit will help you offer more healthful foods and drinks in school. It includes practical ideas for fundraisers, classroom parties, and school events. It will also provide sample messaging for students, families, and staff about the healthy offerings.

Smart Promotions. The Smart Promotions section of your Smart Choices Toolkit will help begin a student-led or student-influenced campaign to improve behaviors around healthy choices in school. The rest of the Smart Promotions section includes promotional items to display in your school building.

Smart Education. The Smart Education section of your Smart Choices Toolkit provides sample activities and evidence-based curriculum to be used in the classroom.

 

This toolkit is full of success stories from schools across the District. If you would like contact information from schools featured in this toolkit, more information from the Health and Wellness Department, or have any further questions, please contact M. Caitlin W. Howe, Wellness Policy and Promotions Manager, at chowe2@boston.k12.ma.us. or (617) 635-6643.