Supplementary policy language: Food and beverages

Celebrations during an afterschool program are consistent with the program’s healthy-eating goals.

Policy example 1:

Food and beverages served during celebrations, such as holidays or birthday parties, must meet the Boston Public Schools’ Competitive Food Guidelines. Foods and beverages brought into the program for celebrations must also be consistent with these guidelines.

Practice Implications: This policy requires that both a program and anyone bringing food into the program (such as parents or partner organizations) stick to the Boston Public School’s Competitive Foods Guidelines for celebrations.

This means that sugar-sweetened beverages cannot be served; 100% fruit juice is limited to a 12-oz portion size; and milks must be limited to 14-oz servings. Additionally, it means that any foods served or brought in for celebrations must meet the guidelines for fat, sugar, and sodium, as well as portion size limits for the Boston Public Schools Competitive Foods Guidelines.

You will need to familiarize yourself with these guidelines, as well as guidance on allowable foods and beverages, and to provide parents and partner organizations with suggestions for foods and beverages (as well as suggestions for alternatives to food). This handout may be a good resource.

Policy example 2:

Our program tries to promote healthy foods and beverages for children. It is important that we send children consistent messages about nutrition. Therefore, only water or milk will be allowed as beverages at celebrations. Cupcakes, cake, candy, ice cream, cookies, and chips will not be allowed. We also encourage non-food activities for celebrations.

Practice Implications: This policy also requires that both the program and anyone bringing food into the program refrain from bringing in unhealthy food and beverages. This policy specifies which types of beverages and food are not allowed for celebrations.

Following this policy will require that parents and partner organizations be made aware of the new policy and that they cannot bring in unhealthy foods and beverages.

It will also require that staff members are aware of the restrictions on celebration food and beverages, and must confiscate or send back any food or beverages that do not meet the guidelines.

Providing staff members, parents, and partner organizations with suggestions for alternatives will also be essential.

Partner organizations providing activities to children during program time must serve foods and beverages consistent with the program’s nutrition guidelines.

Policy example 1:

All food made available to children through partner organizations (such as [INSERT ORGANIZATION NAME HERE]) will meet our program nutrition guidelines. Partner organizations are not allowed to serve sugar-sweetened beverages or foods with >0 grams of trans fats, and will be asked to serve fruits and vegetables.

Practice Implications: This policy clearly requires that partner organizations that provide activities to children during program time (such as the Girl Scouts or tutors from local colleges) cannot bring sugar-sweetened beverages or food with trans fats into the program.

You will need to speak with partner organization staff about nutrition guidelines. You will also need to monitor food brought in by partner organizations to ensure that they meet the guidelines.

Policy example 2:

Organizations that partner with us to provide afterschool activities or enrichment (such as INSERT ORGANIZATION NAME HERE) are prohibited from bringing food and beverages to serve to children.

Practice Implications: This policy is more restrictive, prohibiting partner organizations from bringing in snacks and beverages at all.

While this policy is clearly broader, it also may be easier to enforce because it will not require training the partner organizations on the nutrition guidelines nor will it require monitoring food brought into the program.

Fundraising activities do not involve unhealthy foods and beverages.

Policy example 1:

Fundraising activities for the afterschool program will not involve foods or beverages.

Practice Implications: This policy outlines a straightforward solution for eliminating unhealthy food and beverages for fundraising by simply banning all food and beverages.

While this is more restrictive than only allowing certain food and beverages, this policy may be easier and less confusing to enforce.

Staff, parents, and partner organizations must be trained on the new policy and provided with alternative ideas for fundraising (see examples).

Policy example 2:

Fundraising activities for our afterschool program will rarely involve food or beverages. When foods or beverages are used for fundraising activities, they must meet the Boston Public Schools Competitive Foods Guidelines. Fruits, vegetables, and water will be encouraged.

Practice Implications: This policy allows foods and beverages for fundraising, but clearly specifies that they must meet BPS’ Competitive Foods Guidelines, which is required for all programs taking place on BPS school property.

Staff, parents, and others involved in fundraising efforts must be made aware of the policy. Staff members must monitor food and beverages sold at fundraisers to ensure that they adhere to these guidelines.

All those involved in fundraising should be provided with a list of alternative activities to selling food and beverages, as well as a list of acceptable foods and beverages if they still choose to sell them.

Meetings, workshops, and family events do not involve unhealthy food and beverages.

Policy example:

As part of our efforts to send consistent messages about healthy eating and drinking, only food and beverages consistent with our program’s nutrition guidelines will be served at all meetings, workshops, and family events at the afterschool program.

Practice Implications: This policy requires that all refreshments served at meetings or other events that take place during an out-of-school program are also consistent with the healthy eating guidelines used by the program.

It will require staff members and those convening such meetings and events to be aware of the guidelines that have been adopted by the program (i.e., no sugar-sweetened beverages or foods with greater than 0 grams of trans fats, encouragement of water, fruits, and vegetables) and for staff members to monitor what is served.

Drinking water is freely available throughout the program.

Policy example 1:

Staff members offer water to children often during the program. If water is not available in the immediate program space, staff bring children to water for water breaks. Pitchers of water and cups are provided for children to serve themselves when they are thirsty.

Practice Implications: This policy requires a program to ensure that children have access to drinking water apart from being served as a beverage during snack time and allows some flexibility in how water is delivered.

This policy requires figuring out the best way to get water to students, whether through a drinking fountain in the program space or through bringing pitchers and cups into the classroom.

Staff will need to be trained on keeping water sources clean, as well as be trained on their obligation to periodically offer water to children.

Policy example 2:

Drinking water availability is an essential component of student wellness. The program will work with the school and food services to provide water at snack as a beverage every day and provide access to free, clean, safe drinking water throughout the afterschool program time.

Practice Implications: This policy also requires the program to provide water both at snack and as an available beverage during the program time, but is less specific about the details of how water will be delivered.

This policy statement may be a good option for programs that are working toward being able to provide water throughout program time, but may not yet be able to achieve it every day.

Staff make positive statements about healthy eating.

Policy example:

Helping children form healthy eating habits is an important part of snack time. Therefore, staff encourage (not force) children to try healthy food, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and water. Staff are also sure to make positive statements about healthy food and healthy eating during snack time, such as “These apples taste sweet,” or “These carrots are nice and crunchy,” or “I’m feeling thirsty–I’ll have some water; I know it’s good for me.”

Practice Implications: This policy will require training staff on the importance of making positive statements about healthy food in front of children and providing examples of positive statements they could make.

Vending machine sales are restricted.

Policy example 1:

Children are not allowed to use vending machines on the premises during program hours.

Practice Implications: This policy places limits on children’s access to vending machines. Because the policy says “restricted,” this could either mean that children are not allowed to use vending machines at all or that children are only allowed to purchase healthy products.

Depending on what works for your program, this could either mean that you a) unplug vending machines during program hours so no one can access them at all; b) train staff to prevent children from purchasing anything from the vending machines; or c) train staff to monitor what children buy from vending machines and prevent them from buying restricted foods/beverages.

Limiting vending machine sales completely may be the simplest option.

Policy example 2:

Our program works with the school to ensure that vending machines are turned off or unplugged during program hours.

Practice Implications: This policy is more straightforward–it stipulates that children will not have access to vending machine sales at all by requiring that the machines are simply not turned on.

Staff are encouraged to model healthy eating and drinking.

Policy example:

Children learn healthy habits by watching adults. Staff members are therefore encouraged to eat healthy snacks (such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) in front of the children and drink healthy beverages (such as water).

Practice Implications: This policy requires training staff on what counts as a healthy food or beverage.

It may also require training staff on foods/beverages that they should not consume in front of children (particularly sugar-sweetened beverages, candy, salty snacks, or foods in branded packaging).

Food is not allowed as a punishment or reward.

Policy example:

Food is never to be used as a punishment or reward.

Practice Implications: Using food as a behavioral consequence has been shown to have a negative impact on eating habits–it can make it more likely that children crave sweets or other treats more strongly than healthy food.

While the Massachusetts state regulations prohibit the practice of withholding food as punishment, this policy statement goes further and stipulates that food cannot be used as a reward for good behavior, either.

If this is common at your program, this may require training staff in alternative ways to manage children’s behavior.

Children are given opportunities to participate in food preparation.

Policy example:

Whenever possible, children are involved in activities to help prepare snacks, such as pouring beverages or washing fruits and vegetables.

Practice Implications: This policy requires that a program involve children in food preparation. While this could be as elaborate as structured cooking classes, programs could also fulfill this policy requirement by ensuring that children are snack helpers and help to set out foods and beverages.

A program may want to include snack preparation time on the program schedule and train staff on how to involve children in snack preparation.

Nutrition education is required.

Policy example:

The program provides activities for children to learn about nutrition at least twice per month.

Practice Implications: This policy will require that a program places nutrition education activities in the program schedule.

The program will need to ensure that a staff member can lead a nutrition education activity (such as those outlined in the Food and Fun curriculum).

Nutrition training is required for program staff.

Policy example:

Our yearly staff orientation includes a basic training on nutrition.

Practice Implications: This policy, which reiterates one of the Massachusetts state regulations, will require that program administrators include training on nutrition as part of general staff training. Program administrators may want to use resources from the USDA or their local school system to find appropriate training materials.

Parents must be informed of changes to the menu.

Policy example:

The snack menu is the only way for parents to know what their children have been eating during the afterschool program. If a different snack is served than what is listed on the menu, staff must notify parents.

Practice Implications: This policy will require either a re-posting of the modified snack menu in the program space or will require staff members to notify parents of the change in the snack menu (i.e., through newsletters, e-mail communications, or at pick-up).