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Nutrition and Health in Early Childhood


Children enrolled in a DCPS early childhood program receive nutritious meals daily from three different vendors depending on the school they attend: Chartwells, Revolution Foods, and DC Central Kitchen.  The DCPS Office of Food and Nutrition Services provides progressive programs such as Embassy Food Days and works with local farmers to bring fresh, seasonal ingredients to our schools.  DCPS follows the Nutritional Guidelines in the Healthy Schools Act.

If your child has allergies or special dietary needs, please complete the Medical Statement to Request Dietary Accommodations, which can be found here, and return it to the school nurse.  The school nurse will document the information and provide it to the cafeteria team and school principal.  In addition, make sure to let your child’s teacher know if your child has allergies or special dietary needs.

All children enrolled at DC Public Schools are offered a free breakfast daily.  Lunch prices are dependent upon your family’s FARM (Free and Reduced-price Meal) status.  FARM forms are available on the DCPS Website and at the schools.  If your child attends one of the schools listed here they are eligible to receive free lunch meals without needing to submit a FARM form. Children enrolled in after-school programs receive a meal as a part of the program at no charge.  Menus are available on the DCPS Website. Vegetarian meals are available at each school daily.  Families may always choose to send lunch from home.

At many DCPS schools, lunch for PK3 and PK4 students is served family style in the classroom or cafeteria. During family-style meals, children sit with peers in small groups and serve themselves, with the assistance of teachers or paraprofessionals if needed.  Family style mealtime is a wonderful opportunity to build a strong classroom community by fostering greater relationship building among children and teachers.

Breakfast and lunch also serve as non-traditional instructional time where the class can discuss relevant concepts from math and science, as well as nutritional topics such as how to identify healthy food choices.  For example, teachers may talk about colors of food, texture, measurements for serving sizes, and how food is prepared. Families are welcome to volunteer during lunch and/or to eat with their children.

Health Screenings

All children enrolled in DCPS are required to submit the Universal Health Certificate and Oral Health Assessment forms that are included in the enrollment packet. To be valid, the Universal Health Certificate and Oral Health Assessment[PDF] must:

  • Have a date of exam that is current within 365 days of the child’s first day of school. 
  • Be completed and signed by the child’s health or dental provider.
  • Be signed by the parent/guardian.

Health and dental forms are only valid for one year after the exam date.  New forms should be submitted every school year after the child’s annual health and dental check-up.

Please note that the Universal Health Certificate is a two-page form. The first page documents the child’s most recent physical.  The second page lists all the immunizations the child has received.  Both pages are required for the form to be complete.

PK3 and PK4 aged children are required to have a physical exam, age-appropriate immunizations, vision screening, hearing, screening and dental screening.  In addition, developmental screenings are conducted in all DCPS PK3 and PK4 classrooms.