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Release Date: 5/11/2018 Contact: Office of Communications, 443.809.5908

Baltimore County Public Schools earns a B for its "food environment"

District score rises significantly from first year of scoring

TOWSON - Give Baltimore County Public Schools a “B” - for the healthy banana bread, bagels, broccoli, and blueberries it serves. That’s what Healthy School Food Maryland did as it graded the state’s 24 school districts for their 2017 school food environments.

Only two districts achieved higher point totals and higher grades. Three other districts tied with BCPS by earning 28 out of 48 points. The score BCPS achieved was significantly higher than its score (announced last year) for 2016, when BCPS earned 16 out of 48 points, which equated to a C-.

“Our score rose partly because of actions we have taken but also because we had the opportunity to better explain to Healthy School Food Maryland what we do and how we do it,” said Karen Levenstein, director of the BCPS Office of Food and Nutrition Services.

“Our greatest point increase was for locally sourcing food served in schools,” said Levenstein. BCPS buys fruits and vegetables from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and chicken from Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The school system also gained points for having a policy that permits students to carry water bottles with them throughout the day, and because it does not permit vending machines in elementary schools. In secondary schools, vending machines operated by the Office of Food and Nutrition Services contain only healthy options. Other vending machines in secondary schools are on timers and cannot be used during the school day.

“Our grade also rose because of our new website that details nutritionals, allergens, and dyes, and our use of Nutrislice software (online and on the BCPS Now app) so that students and families can see daily menus with nutritional information and even photos. We want our families to have more information about the quality of the food we serve and to make better decisions about the meals they eat in our schools,” said Levenstein.

Healthy School Food Maryland is a coalition of state and national organizations and businesses concerned about the quality of food in Maryland school cafeterias. They seek more access to drinking water, greater use of local produce, prohibitions of artificial colors, flavors, and chemicals in school food, healthy vending options, district-level wellness committees, reduction of sugar, variety of meals, transparency about foods served, reduction of foods with low nutritional value, quality salad bars, and an increase in scratch cooking.

Levenstein remarked that some of the organization’s goals are particularly difficult for large school systems like BCPS to achieve, such as cooking more food from scratch.

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443-809-4554

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Interim Superintendent

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