Untitled 1 Healthy School Food Maryland

Past Winners

2016-2017: Takoma Park Elementary School

On June 1, 2017 Takoma Park Elementary School (TPES) was awarded the School Food Improvement Award for their efforts in improving the school food environment and overall well-being of TPES students.

Lindsey holding award Top: Alisa O'Brien, TPES Wellness Committee Member; Zadia Gadsden, Principal, TPES; Lindsey Parsons, Exec. Dir., HSFM; Front: Andrew, student, TPES

The award was given to TPES principal, Dr. Zadia T. Gadsden at the weekly afterschool farm stand established this spring by the TPES PTA Health and Wellness Committee in partnership with a local farm, Your Chef's Table. The Wellness Committee is led by HSFM School Representative and former HSFM Member Coordinator, Marissa Walker. The farm stand, which is stationed next to the playground, has successfully attracted a steady stream of kids and their families, as well as faculty, staff and community members. The fresh, local, seasonal produce comes from a farm in Montgomery County and is grown without synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or GMOs. Pasture-raised eggs and chicken as well as fruits and vegetables are available, as well as complete meal kits using farm-fresh ingredients. The farm stand takes all forms of payment, including EBT/SNAP.

Russ Testa, Farmer, Your Chef's Table farm

TPES has been a leader in school wellness initiatives over the last several years, including the launch of the Move More! Sit Less campaign in April 2015. This campaign provided TPES K-2 teachers with information and equipment (including yoga balls, wiggle seats, and other movement tools) necessary to infuse movement into their curricula and classroom routines, as well as to educate the broader school community about the benefits of physical activity and its link to improved health, cognition and academic performance. The following year, the Health and Wellness Committee documented active classrooms by creating an educational video, Minds on the Move, and still photographs that appear in large posters around the school. The Health and Wellness Committee now maintains a supply of movement equipment available to any interested teachers.

Furthermore, recognizing that outdoor spaces are vital to whole-school wellness efforts, since 2013, the TPES PTA's Playground and Field Committee has:

  • Raised approximately $20,000 for (and managed the installation of) an outdoor classroom that doubles as a shade structure during recess.
  • Raised $2,400 for - and managed the installation of - 12 trees around the play field perimeter, to provide much-needed shade.
  • Worked to sustain a viable playing field surface, including successfully advocating for a county-wide school play space management program that will support a long-term solution to providing continuously usable play space.

Marissa Walker with her son Marissa Walker, Chair, TPES Wellness Committee with her son

HSFM is very proud of Takoma Park Elementary School, their many active PTA committees and parents and their supportive principal for their continuous efforts in promoting wellness for TPES students!

2015-2016: Somerset Elementary School and East Silver Spring Elementary School

In June 2016, both Somerset ES and East Silver Spring ES were awarded the HSFM School Food Improvement Award for their exemplary efforts in promoting wellness and nutrition during the 2015-2016 school year. Because both schools made such tremendous progress in school nutrition this year, our awards committee decided to recognize both with the award.

Somerset ES Award On June 13, 2016, HSFM presented Somerset ES with the School Nutrition Improvement Award. With the support of Principal Kelly Morris and the PTA, HSFM Representative Kerri Davis instituted a Nutrition and Wellness Committee this year at Somerset. The school hosted a FarmRai$er in which they raised over $2,500, much of which will be used for future health and wellness initiatives. Some of this money went to the school's first ever wellness week in which banners, contests, and assemblies promoted nutrition, fitness, and mindfulness. Further, the committee shared HSFM's healthy classroom material with teachers, leading to healthier snacks and rewards in class and limiting birthday celebrations to once per month.

Additionally, in cooperation Somerset new a la carte options with the cafeteria manager, Somerset ES removed unhealthy 'a la carte' menu items, such as Doritos and Cheetos, and replaced them with healthier options, such as 51% whole grain pita chips, popcorn, hummus, cheese sticks and dried chickpeas. Also, for the first time, the a la carte menu was published and distributed to parents, making them aware of their children's food options in school. Finally, Somerset ES publishes healthy recipes and nutrition fun facts in their weekly newsletter.

ESS ES Award

On June 14, 2016, HSFM presented East Silver Spring ES with the School Nutrition Improvement Award. East Silver Spring ES has made equally commendable efforts to promote health and wellness this year under the leadership of HSFM Representatives Karen Kali and Maggie Carey, with the support of Principal Adrienne Morrow, Assistant Principal Tara Strain and the PTA. The school held their first annual Wellness Night, which engaged students through smoothie making, Zumba, mindfulness training and a fruit tasting, Fruit and Vegetable Section ESS ES as well as provided information on nutrition and wellness through presentations and sample snack packs. Additionally, East Silver Spring ES emphasized the importance of drinking water by providing each student with a free reusable water bottle and requesting a water bottle filler station near the cafeteria. Finally, the PTA created a list of healthy snack options that was sent home with kindergarten students to encourage parents to donate these healthy snacks to the classroom. These accomplishments and many more are chronicled in a very impressive blog created by the Wellness Committee.

Both Somerset ES and East Silver Spring ES have not only taken tremendous strides in promoting nutrition and wellness this year, but also plan to continue on this path and are eager to implement new initiatives next year. Both schools are recognized for their success in improving the school food environment and serve as a model to other schools in MCPS.

2014-2015: Chevy Chase Elementary School

On May 29, 2015, HSFM awarded Chevy Chase Elementary School (CCES) the 2014-2015 Most Improved School Food Award for their exceptional emphasis on school nutrition. Last year, CCES created a formal wellness committee, which has been the driving force behind many of the nutrition-related changes that have been made.This year, award_CCES 2 CCES instituted HSFM's Healthier Party Plan, which incorporated healthy snacks and water into school parties and discouraged soda and foods with artificial colors. CCES has also provided teachers with HSFM's flyer with alternative options to rewarding children with food in class. The wellness committee at CCES replaced cafeteria a la carte foods containing artificial food dyes and too much sugar with healthier items containing high fiber and whole grains.

Furthermore, the staff at CCES has shown their support for nutrition education by inviting nutrition specialists to hold a workshop for parents in April on preparing healthy snacks and lunches.They also made an effort to keep parents informed and to get parents involved in the changes being made to improve the school food environment. In May, CCES hosted a Wellness Week dedicated to educating the students about nutrition. Assemblies were held featuring experts in healthy eating, and a program called "Eat the Rainbow" was promoted to get the children to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables in a fun and engaging way.

CCES has been an advocate for healthy living in the greater community as well as within the school. They held a fundraiser at Nava Health Center to teach parents how to update their holiday meals with healthier recipes and they held a parent-child fitness class fundraiser at Pulse Fitness.

Other notable nominees included:
Sligo Creek ES - for installing an interactive salad garden, featuring a section for HSFM on their PTA web site, and promoting healthy snacks in the classroom and at parties; and Takoma Park ES - for forming a Health and Wellness Committee, promoting nutrition education, and conducting a parent school food survey.

2013-2014: Bradley Hills Elementary School

Lindsey giving award to Sandra Reece, Principal, Bradley Hill ES HSFM Co-Director Lindsey Parsons (front left) awarding certificate to Bradley Hills ES Principal Sandra Reece (front right)

On Sept. 20, 2014, Real Food for Kids - Montgomery (HSFM)presented Bradley Hills Elementary School with the "HSFM School Food Improvement Award" for the 2013-2014 school year. This award recognizes the school that has made the most positive progress in the past year to improve the school food environment. The advocacy work done by HSFM's school representative Lisa Mandell and their PTA's Wellness Committee, in cooperation with Principal Sandra Reece, is an example to all Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) of what can be accomplished with an organized parent effort and cooperative school administrators.

Their efforts began at the end of the 2012-2013 academic year with a parent survey on school food, which indicated that parents were opposed to many of the a la carte items being sold in the cafeteria and had concerns about the nutritional value of the hot lunches. PTA Wellness Committee Chairs, Aimee Aronson and Lisa Mandell, arranged a meeting between their school's principal, Sandra Reece, and MCPS Food and Nutrition Services Director, Marla Caplon, to voice parents' concerns. Following this meeting, Salad Bar at Bradley Hills ES MCPS agreed to remove the a la carte items that over 50 percent of parents disapproved of (e.g., gummy fruit snacks, Doritos, and ice cream) and replace these with healthier alternatives. Additionally, the survey revealed that parents desired a salad bar, which was subsequently installed in the cafeteria. To encourage students to eat more fruits and vegetables, as well as educate the kids about the value of nutrition, the PTA Wellness Committee organized "Rainbow Week," during the week of April 28, in conjunction with Pack Assorted Colors for Kids (P.A.C.K) Week. The committee supplied students with charts and stickers to track the different types of food they ate throughout the week, motivating students to eat a "rainbow" of foods. Parents responded positively to the committee's efforts, stating that their children were enthusiastically trying new fruits and vegetables at home.

The PTA Wellness Committee frequently engages with parents to ensure that their voices are being heard and that they are actively involved in their children's health and wellness. The committee Kids at Bradley Hills ES by salad bar sends a monthly "What's Up with Wellness" E-Report, which informs parents of what the committee is working on, as well as stories and tips to promote healthy eating and physical activity in the schools and at home. Additionally, at the request of Principal Reece, the committee invited Food Services Supervisor, Elizabeth Harrell, to speak to parents at their November 2013 meeting, to explain the new changes to the a la carte menu as well as the introduction of the salad bar. The committee also plays an active role in monitoring the food being served at PTA fundraisers and class parties by developing and distributing tip sheets to parents and teachers for planning healthy events.

The BHES Wellness Committee hopes to continue their success in the upcoming school year by holding a cookbook fundraiser in which students can submit their own recipes, bringing more nutrition and wellness speakers to parent meetings, as well as repeating the programs of the past year.

Award Criteria


The HSFM School Food Improvement Award recognizes school administrators and parents who have worked together to improve the school food environment. There are many different ways that your school may have exemplified such efforts. For example:

  • The presence of a wellness committee and/or school-based wellness policy
  • Improvements to a la carte items and/or vending choices
  • Healthy classroom snacks and in-school parties
  • Healthy PTA fundraisers and events
  • PTA signing the HSFM Healthy kids Pledge
  • Nutrition speakers, classes and assemblies
  • School garden

Calls for nominations go out in the spring of each school year to HSFM school representatives and through our listserv and a committee selects one winner each year.


"As a professional in public health, working to reduce obesity and preventable chronic illness among children by increasing access to healthy foods and physical activity in and out of school, I strongly support these recommendations. They are timely and on point. Our children spend many hours a day at school, some children eating the bulk of their meals at school, thus we have an obligation to be smart and responsible with regard to the meals and snacks we provide to them. Schools all across this country are taking steps to adopt a higher standard in school nutrition services. As we take pride in calling ourselves, and being recognized by others, as one of the greatest school districts in the country, we must see it fit to lead in every aspect of our children's education and well-being at school.
- One of the signers of the HSFM 2014 petition on school food.

         Copyright © 2022   Chesapeake Institute for Local Sustainable Food and Agriculture (HSFM's fiscal sponsor)