Real Food for Kids

Food Day 2011 at Wolftrap Elementary in Vienna, VA

Real Food for Kids (RFFK) is a community-driven advocacy group organized to advance school food reform in Fairfax County, VA, and to improve the health and academic outcomes of students. Through building a strong constituency of parents and students, they have raised awareness of the link between a poor-quality diet and poor academic performance, and have successfully activated funding for change.

Recent News & Updates

FNS Implementation Plan Fully Underway

In March 2014, FCPS Food and Nutrition Services unveiled a phased Strategic Plan for school food improvement that has been championed by Real Food For Kids. The plan outlined installation of fresh fruit and vegetable "zones" (FFVZs) in all middle and high schools over the next three years, elimination of additional artificial additives, dyes, and preservatives, access to better nutrition information for parents and students, implementation of a local purchase preference policy, expansion of the menu cycle, and a plan to phase out regular soda from student access areas in all schools.

Here is how the plan will be implemented:

All FCPS high schools will have self-serve FFVZs in place when students return to school in September 2014, with different fruits and vegetables each week as well as salads and wraps. 

Phased installation of FFVZs in all FCPS middle schools will take place over the year. 

An Elementary Principals Advisory Group is being formed to explore pilot schools for FFVZs. 

FNS has already included an extensive additives ban in all bids for foods coming into the system this year; a formal additives policy will be completed by year's end.

Regular sodas will be removed in phases from all high schools by the end of school year as new machines are installed.

All soda machines will be removed from middle schools. 

"The commitment of FNS to make substantive change without delay is clear." Said RFFK's JoAnne Hammermaster, "We know a shift of this magnitude takes time and care, but we could not be more pleased that our students, especially in high school and middle school, will see these changes right away and have access to fresh options when they return to school."

RFFK Successfully Launches Pilot Kitchen at Marshall HS in Falls Church

By working together with school leadership and food service providers, RFFK successfully helped launch a pilot kitchen that features a salad bar, fresh fruit, deli sandwiches, and asian noodles at Marshall HS in Falls Church in fall of 2013. The new food bar sits front and center in Marshall's newly renovated cafeteria, not hidden behind doors like the traditional food serving lines. Students were involved in designing and marketing the new station, as well as developing new recipes.

Superintendent Karen Garza said the pilot program is just one example of efforts to improve the quality of school lunches and educate students about nutrition. "The health and overall well-being of our children needs to be mission critical," she said. The launch and success of this pilot kitchen shows how healthy foods can be provided in a school setting in a way that is both cost effective and appealing to the students. A group of drama students, known as MC Horne and the Fresh wRappers, were particularly excited about the changes. They developed a fun wRap! song as a thank you for bringing fresh food to their school.

RFFK strives to expand this program to the other 196 schools in the district.

RFFK, in conjunction with the school board, initiated a soda pilot program in the fall of 2013 that eliminates regular soda from student access before and after school in 8 high and middle schools. RFFK hopes to expand this soda pilot program to other schools in the county.

RFFK Culinary Challenge

The 2012 Culinary Challenge, sponsored by RFFK and hosted by Marshall High School, gave four teams of culinary students (Falls Church, Marshall, Mount Vernon and Chantilly high schools) the chance to show how appealing vegetables can be! Each team created a themed salad bar, all of which met current USDA guidelines for school lunch. The teams thoughtfully approached the project, making sure they were balanced in nutrients, high in vegetable variety, and designed to appeal to fellow FCPS students.

The teams' creations won rave reviews from a distinguished panel of judges. Ann Cooper, "the Renegade Lunch Lady", a celebrated chef and author, flew in from Colorado to serve as a judge. Other panelists were: Chef Nora Pouillon, of Restaurant Nora, a pioneer of serving organic food; Dr. Natalie Sikka, a pediatric gastroenterologist; Katherine Bishop, from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, with a special interest in school food policy; and Edward Kwitowski, Chef and Director of School Food Services for DC Central Kitchen.

Winning salad by Chantilly High School (upper left) and participants with the judges from the "Feeding Academic Success" Culinary Challenge 2012