Healthy Schools and Childcare
Children spend a large portion of their days in school or childcare. As a result, the food they eat and the amount of physical activity they engage in affects their overall health. Through this workgroup, chronic disease prevention is addressed from the start,
Policy Priority: Expand access and funding to Farm to School grants throughout New York State to improve the supply of healthy, local produce to public school children.
In 2015, New York State provided $350,000 for Farm to School grants, an amount that covered projects for six schools, out of over 4,000 in the state. Farm to School grants allow schools to create the infrastructure to procure local, healthy foods. The grants help schools purchase new equipment to facilitate scratch cooking, train staff in new techniques, and hire a coordinator to outreach to local farms. While schools still require increased funds to purchase local foods regularly, Farm to School grants create opportunities to improve how school lunches are cooked, promoted, and sourced.
This year the Governor has allocated only $250,000 for new grants. DASH-NY members want more. Let’s make sure more schools can open their doors to healthy food this year.
Policy Priority: Establish a policy to increase reporting by schools on the quality of physical education programs.
A study of New York City schools found huge disparities in quality physical education. Fifty-nine percent of elementary schools do not have full-time certified PE teachers, and over 41 percent of high schools do not have a dedicated space for physical education. In response to the poor conditions, the New York City Council passed a law in 2015 requiring accountability through reporting from city schools on their physical education programs. This city law will allow DOE to identify where there is need for more resources.
The problems facing NYC schools are not unique. Across New York State schools are neglecting or unable to provide quality physical education to their students. Increasing reporting will help the state understand where the problems are and create targeted solutions.