When Falls Church City Public Schools Board Chair Joan Wodiska found out the school system received one of the Magna Awards this week, she was more than excited.
The award, which honors school boards that best demonstrate innovative programs that advance student learning, was given in part for the school system’s "Access to Healthy Meals" program. Aspects of the program include:
- Elimination of all fried foods and began using whole grains in food preparation
- Installation of salad bars at the high school
- Seventy-five percent of all meals in elementary schools are made from scratch, while ensuring that 95 percent of fruits and vegetables provided to students are fresh
- "To-go" meals for student athletes prepared to coaches’ specifications
- Partnerships with culinary schools to test foods, demonstrate cooking and promote wellness
- Poster and video contests and student cooking competitions across schools
- New vendors that meet policy expectations
- Safe walking routes to schools, while integrating physical education and health curricula into efforts.
"It's such a prestigious award for our community and our board," Wodiska said Friday during a telephone interview. "We're doing the right thing for the children."
Wodiska applauded FCCPS Food Service Coordinator Richard Kane for making the menus in the school system’s four schools. She said his hard work helped them win the award. Co-sponsored by the American School Board Journal, the National School Boards Association, and Sodexo School Services, the award had three categories — fewer than 5,000 enrollment; 5,000-20,000 enrollment; and over 20,000 enrollment — with a grand prizewinner in each category.
Wodiska said she believes children cannot learn if they are hungry. Along with the school board and Kane, she said students would be able to have a healthy meal while they are in school.
"No student should be hungry," Wodiska said. "We're an affluent community but hunger exists in Falls Church."