Putting Policy Into Practice
Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy
For the past three years, Ohio Action for Healthy Kids has partnered with the Ohio Department of Health through a grant from CDC to provide technical assistance and professional development to 15 school districts across Ohio. These districts have worked hard to strengthen their nutrition procedures, policies and practices over the course of the grant project resulting in improved nutrition environments for their students. One of the participating schools is a K-12 charter school that has taken the implementation of best practices to the next level. Janie Allen-Blue, manager of school health services at Cincinnati College Preparatory Academy (CCPA), has been leading the charge on these positive changes. Through the combined efforts of the nutrition improvement project as well as a Game On grant sponsored by CSX, CCPA has made a variety of both nutrition and physical activity improvements.
One of the most challenging projects was developing a policy for healthy school celebrations. This policy is now part of the policy manual at CCPA and both teachers and parents have access to view it. The policy aligns school celebrations with the Smart Snack standards ensuring that all foods brought in for classroom parties will follow the same nutrition guidelines as foods served and sold in school. Teachers attended a workshop to review the new policy which includes instructions for label reading. Andrea Cope, a member of the wellness team said, “We have been wanting to make changes to school snacks for a long time, especially for birthdays and school celebrations. I’m so excited about our healthy school snack policy which was approved and instituted at the beginning of the school year. Now we all have support when talking with parents and students in regard to healthy snacks.”
Another goal of CCPA is to assess all of the cafeterias’ environments and based on the results, redesign the cafeterias to encourage the selection of healthy foods. They are now in the process of developing a new design and will implement best practices in these spaces such as in the Smarter Lunchroom Movement. Additional funding from the Game On grant enabled the school to develop a Healthy Cooks Cooking Club for 12th graders. Students in the club participate in healthy cooking activities weekly, learning healthy methods of food preparation and other cooking activities. They will also grow their own herbs and vegetables for use in preparing their healthy food dishes. Recently, students in the Healthy Cooks Club participated in a food safety workshop and received a certificate of completion for food safety. Finally, CCPA has implemented brain breaks in all classrooms. All classrooms are required to incorporate 2, 3-minute brain breaks involving some form of movement for students.
Congratulations to Janie and the team at CCPS for accomplishing so much in a short time period. Their work is a great example of the many positive changes that take place when school staff works together especially when they are able to take those changes and turn them into sustainable policy.