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Local School Wellness Policy for Students

Section 704.7 | Board Report 22-0622-PO4 | Date Adopted June 22, 2022

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That the Chicago Board of Education (“Board”) amend Board Report 20-1216-PO2 Local School Wellness Policy for Students. This policy was posted for public comment April 22, 2022 - May 23, 2022.


The purpose of this policy is to ensure the Board’s expectations for a healthy school environment are articulated and satisfied by establishing requirements for nutrition education, physical activity and the provision of healthy food choices at schools and for all students in grades PK-12. This policy also establishes nutrition standards, requirements and recommendations for foods and beverages sold, provided or served to students at school that compete with food provided under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Seamless Summer Option (SSO), Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). This policy seeks to create a school environment that supports student nutrition and healthy food choices by providing nutrition standards for food and beverages sold 1) as competitive foods in vending machines or in school stores, 2) by food vendors on school grounds, 3) as a la carte items sold in the school dining centers, 4) as part of school fundraisers, celebrations or rewards. The nutrition standards set forth in this policy are consistent with the USDA’s Smart Snacks Guidelines and best practices for competitive foods. The requirements outlined in this policy only apply to activities that take place during the school day, i.e. from midnight the previous night until thirty minutes after the final bell.


The Board recognizes the relationship that exists between academic achievement and student health and wellness. Accordingly, this policy reflects the Board’s commitment to removing health-related barriers to learning via health policy, promotion, education and services, and implementation of the WSCC (Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child) framework.


This policy seeks to mitigate the effects of numerous inequities experienced by CPS students, such as food insecurity and inequitable access to safe spaces for outdoor play, by ensuring that schools provide consistent access to nutritious food and opportunities for physical activity and nutrition education. However, the Board recognizes that this policy does not address the root cause of said inequities which may disproportionately impact our greatest needs groups. The Office of Student Health and Wellness is engaging in ongoing work to operationalize the CPS Equity Framework through this policy within the locus of our control.


I. Definitions

A La Carte: Individually priced food items, provided by Nutrition Support Services, which are available for sale in the school dining center that are not part of the reimbursable meal served through NSLP, SBP, SSO, SFSP or CACFP.

Celebrations: Special events or activities occurring in a classroom or elsewhere at school whether before, during or after the instructional day.

Competitive Foods: Foods and/or beverages sold to students on school grounds that compete with the school’s operation of the NSLP, SBP, SSO, SFSP or CACFP. Competitive foods include, but are not limited to, items sold in vending machines or school stores, by food vendors on school grounds, or in school dining centers as a la carte items.

Fundraiser: Any activity, event or sale to raise funds by or for a school or school club or program occurring on school grounds whether before, during or after school hours.

Nutrition Education: Nutrition education, as part of comprehensive health education, is a planned, sequential, PK-12 curriculum or supplemental education program that addresses the physical, mental, emotional, and social dimensions of health related to nutrition. The program is designed to motivate and assist students to maintain and improve their health, prevent disease, and reduce health-related risk behaviors. It allows students to develop and demonstrate increasingly sophisticated nutrition-related knowledge, attitudes, skills and practices.

Outside Foods: Any food items served, sold, or otherwise brought into schools that are not a part of the school meal programs (NSLP, SBP, SSO, SFSP or CACFP), a la carte, or vending machines, e.g. food brought in from restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

Physical Activity: Physical activity is any bodily movement that results in energy expenditure. Two levels of physical activity are commonly recommended, “Moderate” and “Vigorous.”

Moderate: Movement activities in which participants breathe heavily and are able to talk in complete sentences, but not sing.

Vigorous: Movement activities in which participants perspire, breathe hard and are not able to say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

Physical Education (“PE”): Physical education is an academic subject that provides a planned, sequential, K-12 standards-based program of curricula and instruction designed to develop motor skills, knowledge and behaviors for healthy, active living, physical fitness, sportsmanship, self-efficacy and emotional intelligence.

Rewards: Incentives offered to students in recognition of good behavior or performance whether offered before, during or after school. Includes individual rewards from teachers or other school staff, as well as small or large group events rewarding attendance, academic achievement, etc., such as a pizza party or breakfast with the Principal.

School Day: The school day is defined as midnight to 30 minutes after dismissal.

II. Scope

The Chief Health Officer and Executive Director of Nutrition Support Services, or their designees, must collaborate to ensure all schools serving grades PK-12 comply with the following criteria regarding nutrition education, all food served and/or sold in schools, celebrations and/or rewards, and physical activity. This policy applies to any activities that take place on school grounds during the school day as defined above.

III. Nutrition Education

In order to establish a standardized approach to nutrition education, schools must provide nutrition education programming linking the classroom, dining center, and school garden (where applicable) under the following framework:

IV. Food in Schools

A. Meal Service

B. Competitive Foods

C. Marketing:

Schools must restrict food and beverage marketing during the academic school day to only those foods and beverages that meet the above nutrition standards.

D. Food and Physical Activity as Rewards or Discipline:

  1. Rewards are incentives offered to students in recognition of good behavior or performance whether offered before, during or after school (See Definitions section for more information). Teachers and other school personnel are encouraged to promote non-food rewards. Individual student rewards using food are not permitted. This includes, but is not limited to, teachers, staff, or partners giving out candy or snacks during class, school assemblies, or other gatherings.
  2. Principals, teachers, and other school staff are prohibited from withholding food or offering alternative lunch options (such as a brown bag lunch, lunch in the classroom) as discipline. Food may not be withheld from any student for any reason. In the case of student detention, in-school suspension or other restrictive activities, students must be allowed to go through the dining center service line and select a meal.
  3. Teachers and other school personnel must not use physical activity (e.g., running laps, push-ups) as discipline or withhold opportunities for physical activity (e.g., withholding recess or physical education) as punishment.
  4. Teachers and other school personnel are encouraged to use physical activity opportunities as rewards such as extra recess, special classroom privileges etc.

E. Celebrations:

Celebrations are any special events or activities occurring in a classroom or elsewhere at school whether before, during or after the instructional day. Principals, school staff, parents/guardians, students and before and after school program partners should promote healthy classroom and school celebrations by minimizing the use of candy and snacks. A school may permit a maximum of two school-wide celebrations per school year with outside food (food that is not sourced or provided by the school’s dining center, e.g. through the NSS Catering Menu).Exceptions to the school-wide rule may be possible in cases of grade-specific celebrations such as dances and graduation. Small group celebrations, such as events celebrating attendance goals or other achievements, may include food provided any and all items served meet the nutrition criteria established in this policy. Schools are encouraged to utilize the NSS catering menu for all events at which food is served, and must not serve any outside food during regularly scheduled school meals (e.g. ordering food from a restaurant during the lunch period). Schools must notify parents/guardians of any celebrations that will involve food and must make accommodations for students with allergies or other food-related concerns. Celebrations must not replace the regularly scheduled school meals or prevent dining staff from preparing meals except in the case of student field trips. Schools must conform with: (i) applicable federal regulations, (ii) the Board’s Chronic Conditions Management Policy; (iii) the guidelines to this Policy.

F. Student Access to Nutritious Foods:

In order to increase student access to nutritious foods outside of the school-provided meals, schools must:

  1. Refer all eligible students to CPS' Children and Family Benefits Unit (773-553-KIDS) to enroll them in any appropriate state and federal benefits programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and All Kids (Medicaid).
  2. Promote student participation in the federally-funded summer food service programs and coordinate activities with city agencies to maximize student summer services and student participation in federally-funded summer food service programs.
  3. Promote student participation in after-school and summer programs that serve healthy snacks to children which meet federal and state regulations.
  4. Conduct periodic reviews to ensure that items sold on school grounds are in compliance with this policy.

Additionally, the Office of Student Health and Wellness will work with community organizations and partners to identify additional opportunities to increase food access, such as school-based farmers markets and food pantries.

V. Physical Activity

  • Daily Opportunities for Physical Activity
    Physical Activity can improve students’ ability to focus, learn, and achieve academically. All schools must discourage extended periods (two hours or more) of time when a student is not physically active. When activities, such as school testing, make it necessary for students to remain indoors for long periods of time, schools should provide periodic breaks during which students are encouraged to be moderately to vigorously active. Schools must provide all students, PK-12 with daily opportunities for physical activity before, during and after school.
    1. Grade Level Requirements:
      • Pre-K programs must provide a mix of structured physical activity and unstructured free play, including at least 30 minutes per day for half day programs and 60 minutes per day for full day programs.
      • K-8 Schools must provide daily opportunities for moderate to vigorous physical activity for all students in addition to recess and physical education.
        • Grades K-5. District schools must provide all students in grades K-5 30 minutes of supervised, unstructured physical activity daily.
          1. All unstructured physical activity must comply with a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 Plan.
          2. All unstructured physical activity must not include student use of any electronic devices (computers, tablets, phones, or videos that encourage sedentary behavior).
          3. Physical Education must not be counted towards this requirement for unstructured physical activity.
          4. This 30 minutes is inclusive of the required 20 minute daily recess (section V.B.).
        • Grades 6-8. Schools must provide daily opportunities for moderate to vigorous physical activity in addition to recess and physical education.
      • Grades 9-12. High Schools are encouraged to maximize existing daily opportunities for physical activity (in addition to physical education) before, during, and after school.
    2. Implementation Goals:
      Curriculum Integration: All core subjects including math, science, language arts, health, family and consumer science, and social sciences should maximize student attention and focus by integrating movement daily.
    3. Out of School Physical Activity: Schools shall encourage students to engage in continuous physical activities (moderate to vigorous) outside of school hours for a minimum of 15 to 30 minutes on five or more days per week through participation in community programs, after school programs and/or before school programs.
    4. School Community Shared-Use: In an effort to increase equitable community access to physical activity, schools are encouraged to consider opportunities to open indoor and outdoor facilities during non-school hours for free use by students, staff, families, and/or the larger community, provided the following requirements are observed:
      • Such events (e.g. dance or other fitness classes, basketball nights, etc.) are hosted and supervised by the school;
      • Applicable facilities include gymnasiums, playgrounds, schoolyards, sports fields, courts, and tracks, but does not include swimming pools;
      • Board Rule 6-25 and Board policies and procedures regarding safety and security, including but not limited to staffing and background checks, are followed;
      • Third party organizations, whether non- or for-profit organizations, are not covered under this provision, and must enter into a License Agreement or School Usage Permit per Board Rule 6-25. Contact the Real Estate Department for more information; and,
      • The Principal must consult with the Office of Safety & Security and the Department of Facilities to ensure that there is sufficient staffing coverage and safety measures in place to protect the health, safety, and cleanliness of the school and its students and staff. The school is responsible for funding any associated costs of staffing due to extension of any after hours or incremental activities.
  • Recess:
    All elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools with elementary grades, must provide elementary students (K-8) with a daily opportunity for recess. Recess is a non-instructional activity and must occur during non-instructional time. Recess must be at least 20 minutes in length per day. Recess, which provides students with a break from instruction and time to engage in play with peers, shall include physical activity and/or activities that promote social skill development. It is recommended that schools schedule recess prior to students’ lunch periods. Schools must implement recess in accordance with guidelines set by the CPS Office of Student Health and Wellness.
  • Physical Education:
    The District recognizes that Physical Education is an important part of overall physical activity in schools. Schools must offer physical education programming in accordance with the Illinois School Code and the CPS Physical Education Policy, as overseen and administered by the Office of Teaching and Learning.

VI. Employee Wellness

CPS encourages school staff to pursue a healthy lifestyle that contributes to their improved physical and health status, improved morale, and a greater personal commitment to the school’s overall comprehensive health program. In order to achieve this:

OSHW will work with the Office of Talent to establish health-promoting programs and initiatives focused on skill development and lifestyle changes including but not limited to nutrition, physical activity, mental health, and general wellbeing.

School administrators and Network staff are encouraged to develop wellness initiatives that support the unique needs of their staff within the school’s capacity, such as expanding access to exercise facilities (gym, weight room), or hosting staff-focused wellness events.

VII. Local School Implementation

  1. School Wellness Champion: The principal must annually designate a school employee to serve as the School Wellness Champion who will (i) lead and coordinate their school’s efforts to create and sustain a culture of health and wellness, (ii) serve as the liaison to CPS Office of Student Health and Wellness regarding school level efforts to implement this policy and reporting as needed, and (iii) annually establish, serve on and lead a School Wellness Team that develops goals, strategies and initiatives for student health and wellness during the school year.
  2. School Wellness Team: Each school is required to have a wellness team, a group of individuals who work to create a culture of health and wellness within the school. The principal must ensure that a School Wellness Team is formed annually to spearhead health and wellness initiatives at the school that are in compliance with the Office of Student Health and Wellness’ Healthy CPS Initiative, as well as coordinate compliance plans and efforts for ensuring adherence to policy requirements. The Wellness Team must be representative of the overall school community to the greatest extent possible, and should include parents/guardians, teachers of physical education, classroom teachers, school health professionals, students, school administrators and community health and wellness partners, and other relevant stakeholders. Schools that have gardens and Pre-K programs must include representatives of both on their Wellness Team, and student groups must be consulted on a regular basis. The principal must establish a system to identify School Wellness Team members annually.
  3. Parent/Family Outreach. Schools are encouraged to provide parents/guardians with information to help them incorporate healthy eating and physical activity into their child’s lives in and outside of school. This information may be provided in the form of handouts, postings on the school website, information provided in school newsletters, presentations that focus on nutrition and healthy lifestyles and any other appropriate means available for reaching parents.
  4. Reporting: The principal must provide quarterly updates to the Local School Council regarding the school’s health and wellness initiatives and the school’s implementation of this policy. In addition schools must report progress to the Office of Student Health and Wellness when requested including through completion of an annual survey.

VIII. Support and Oversight

The Office of Student Health and Wellness will:

  1. Provide technical assistance, support and professional development/training to assist schools with implementation of the policy and improve programming functions;
  2. Ensure schools are offered support services through various departments including the Office of Student Health and Wellness, Nutrition Support Services, and the Office of Teaching and Learning to ensure the full implementation of this policy;
  3. Establish a District-wide Whole Child Task Force to serve as an advisory group for this policy as well as other aspects of WSCC (Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child) implementation.
  4. Establish a process for identifying and distributing resources made available by qualified agencies and community organizations for the purpose of collaborating with schools to enhance implementation of this policy, including but not limited to a Materials Review Committee comprised of content experts from OSHW and other relevant CPS departments including but not limited to the Office of Teaching and Learning and the Office of Social-Emotional Learning, to vet curricula and programs related to Nutrition Education, Physical Activity, and Gardens;
  5. Establish a process to gather regular reporting and feedback from individual schools, community partners, students and parents on the implementation of the policy;
  6. Establish a process for assessing the equity impact of this policy, including how the policy is implemented in relation to who is most impacted by inequity to determine targeted universalist supports for schools;
  7. Conduct periodic evaluations and report on district-wide and individual schools’ compliance with the Policy; and
  8. By December 2023, conduct a district-wide review and assessment of this policy and propose relevant Policy revisions.

IX. School Progress Report Measure

CPS will provide an annual indicator on the CPS School Progress Report that is directly correlated with the school’s health and wellness environment and school’s compliance with this and any applicable federal regulations and related Board policy.

X. Review of Policy Coordination Efforts

The Chief Health Officer and Executive Director of Nutrition Support Services must designate individuals from central office departments and schools, as well as external stakeholders to convene at least annually, and on an as-needed basis, to review CPS wellness and community coordination efforts and opportunities.

XI. Guidelines

The Chief Health Officer and Executive Director of Nutrition Support Services or designee is authorized to develop and implement guidelines, standards and toolkits to ensure the effective implementation of this policy.

Policy References

Amends/Rescinds Amends 20-1216-PO2
Cross References Board Rule 6-25
20-1216-PO2 [Rescinds 17-0628-PO5 and 17-0628-PO6 [407.3 – Healthy Snack and Beverage Policy]
Note: 12-1024-PO1 Rescinds 06-0823-PO4 and 95-0527-PO1
Legal References Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, 42 USC 1751; Illinois Critical Health Problems and Comprehensive Health Education Act 105 ILCS 110 et seq; 105 ILCS 5/2-3.137, 7 CFR Parts 210 and 220, USDA Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards, 105 ILCS 5/27-6.3
Public Comment Pursuant to Board Rule 2-6 this Policy was subject to Public Comment from 4/22/22 - 5/23/22
Pursuant to Board Rule 2-6 this Policy was subject to Public Comment from 10/9/20 – 11/9/20

Policy Managed By Student Health and Wellness (OSHW)


42 W. Madison St.
Chicago, IL 60602