THE BRIDGE ACADEMY WELLNESS PLAN
WELLNESS – NUTRITION AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
This policy was created to address the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-265). The act establishes guidelines to promote the development and implementation of comprehensive school nutrition policies by local boards of education. Section 204 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-296) expands upon and strengthens the local wellness policy requirement by emphasizing ongoing implementation and assessment. This provision also supports the expansion of the team of collaborators participating in the wellness policy development to include more members from the community. This approach is intended to foster broad-based community support for the development and implementation of effective wellness policies.
The following resources are used to evaluate and promote this Wellness policy:
- CSDE Smarter Lunchrooms Action Guide
- School Health Guidelines to Promote Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (CDC)
- Comprehensive Framework for Addressing the SCHOOL NUTRITION ENVIRONMENT AND SERVICES (CDC)
- CDC Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs: A Guide for Schools • CSDE Action Guide for School Nutrition and Physical Activity Policies
- CSDE Guide to Competitive Foods in Schools
- CDC Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs (CSPAP)
- Wellness Advisory Committee
The Bridge Academy maintains a Governing Council that acts as the Wellness Committee which includes Bridge Academy staff and parents. The Governing Council discusses Wellness activities each month. In addition, the Governing Council will have three meetings a year that include representatives from food service, physical education/health and the nursing staff. The committee will make recommendations to the Bridge Academy staff to promote student health and wellness and, together with district and Bridge Academy administrators, will monitor implementation and evaluation of this procedure.
Evaluations of the plan and its implementation are conducted at least every three years using the wellness school assessment tool, WellSAT 3.0 and the WellSAT-I. The plan is reviewed and approved by our Wellness Committee and the results of the assessment made available to the Governing Council and the public through our website. The plan is updated according to needs that are uncovered by the assessment.
The Wellness Advisory Committee will maintain a web page on the school’s website at www.bridgeacademy.org/wellness. The Wellness Committee web page will have this policy, its periodic evaluation, and contact information.
Contacting the Wellness Advisory Committee for information can be done at any time by contacting The Bridge Academy’s Principal, Rachel Allison, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, phone at 203-336-9999 or by mail at The Bridge Academy Wellness Committee, 160 Pulaski Street, Bridgeport, CT 06608. The middle school principal, Rachel Allison, is the district and school official designated to ensure compliance.
III. Wellness Mission Statement:
The mission of the Wellness Committee is to promote healthy eating habits and physical fitness in relation to childhood development and long-term health. We will accomplish this mission by working with the community, the Bridge Academy administration, teachers and food services to maximize procedures that encourage wellness through nutrition and physical activity.
- Communications with Parents
The Bridge Academy supports parents’ efforts to provide a healthy diet and daily physical activity for their children.
The Bridge Academy offers healthy eating seminars for parents, send home nutrition information, post nutrition tips on Bridge Academy websites, and provide nutrient analyses of Bridge Academy menus.
The Bridge Academy encourages parents to pack healthy lunches and snacks and to refrain from including beverages and foods that do not meet the nutrition standards for individual foods and beverages.
The Bridge Academy provides parents a list of suggested foods that meet the district’s snack standards and ideas for healthy celebrations/parties, rewards, and fundraising activities.
The Bridge Academy provides opportunities for parents to share their wellness practices with others in the Bridge Academy community:
- Families are invited to attend exhibits of student nutrition or health fairs
- Bridge Academy works with community institutions to assure screening services are available for interested families
- The Bridge Academy provides information about physical education and other Bridge Academy-based physical activity opportunities before, during, and after the school day and supports parents’ efforts to provide their children with opportunities to be physically active outside of Bridge Academy. Such support includes sharing information about physical activity and physical education through our website, take-home materials such as flyers and brochures, announcements, emails, texts, special events, or physical education homework.
- Nutritional Quality of Foods and Beverages Sold and Served in The Bridge Academy
Bridge Academy will provide students with access to a variety of affordable, nutritious and appealing foods that meet students’ health needs and accommodate ethnic and cultural food preferences.
Bridge Academy meals will include a variety of healthy choices that meet USDA requirements and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and are modified, as appropriate, for special dietary needs.
To encourage healthy choices for students, nutrition standards used by the District will provide clear guidance about foods and beverages available on Bridge Academy grounds throughout the Bridge Academy day. The Nutrition Standards will focus on increasing nutrient density, decreasing fat and added sugars, and moderating portion size. Procedures and practices will encourage the consumption of nutrient-dense foods, such as whole grains, fresh fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.
For the 2021-22 school year, The Bridge Academy will install electronic signs that give nutrition information for all menu items. These menu signs will provide better information for students to make smart nutrition choices.
Nutrition lessons are also integrated into our Health curriculum for all grades, including lessons in reading nutrition labels and keeping an eating and drinking journal. Students also engage in such tasks as measuring and weighing the amount of sugar in popular food and beverage items such as cookies and soda. Nutrition units culminate with students creating healthy menus and sharing them with family.
In addition, other classes will integrate at least some nutrition information into their curricula by, for example, analyzing the eating habits of other cultures and civilizations in Social Studies lessons.
Monthly menus will be distributed to all students and posted on our website.
The Bridge Academy Nutrition Standards for Meals
The Bridge Academy chooses to follow the Connecticut State Department of Education’s (CSDE) Connecticut Nutrition Standards for Food in Schools. The Connecticut Nutrition Standards addresses all foods sold to students separately from a reimbursable school breakfast or lunch. They are based on current nutrition science and national health recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, MyPyramid and national organizations, such as the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Dietetic Association and American Academy of Pediatrics. These standards are updated periodically by the State and can be seen with the web link below.
The following website links will bring you to the latest information:
Summary of Connecticut Nutrition Standards for Food in Schools
The Connecticut Nutrition Standards for Food in Schools
List of Acceptable Foods and Beverages
USDA National School Lunch Program
USDA National School Breakfast Program
Guides To Smart Snack in School:
Bridge Academy meals will be appealing and attractive to students.
Bridge Academy meals will be served in clean and pleasant settings.
Bridge Academy meals shall be planned to incorporate the basic menu planning principles of balance, variety, contrast, color, and eye appeal.
Water is available for self-service at all meal times. Free drinking water is also available throughout the day through water fountains that also allow for water bottle fill-up.
In order to increase participation in the school meal program, input from students, staff and parents will be considered when planning Bridge Academy lunch menus. Students have a periodic opportunity to provide input and promote local, cultural and ethnic foods.
Bridge Academy will encourage parents to provide a healthy breakfast for their children through emails, take-home materials, or other means. The Bridge Academy offers free breakfast to all students through the National School Breakfast Program.
Free and Reduced-Priced Meals
Through the National School Lunch Programs Community Eligibility Program all students at The Bridge Academy will be offered a free lunch and breakfast daily. All information regarding free and reduced lunch status will be kept confidential. In addition, since all meals are free, the cafeteria is cashless (students only need to give a randomly assigned “lunch number”) so there is no way to identify who receives free or reduced meals.
Special Dietary Needs
Upon request, Bridge Academy staff will provide food ingredients and other information to parents so that they may make informed decisions about menu choices for their children while at Bridge Academy. To the extent possible, Bridge Academy staff will work with families to meet students’ dietary needs.
Sharing of Foods and Beverages
Given concerns about allergies and other restrictions on some children’s diets, Bridge Academy will discourage students from sharing their foods or beverages with one another during meal or snack times.
Meal Times and Scheduling
Lunch at The Bridge Academy is 30 minutes long which allows students at least twenty minutes of seat time.
Bridge Academy will not schedule tutoring, club, or organizational meetings or activities during mealtimes, unless students may eat during such activities.
Bridge Academy will provide students access to hand washing or hand sanitizing before they eat meals or snacks.
Bridge Academy will take reasonable steps to accommodate the tooth-brushing regimens of students with special oral health needs (e.g., orthodontia or high tooth decay risk).
Students who must leave school before or during the lunch period will be allowed to take a bagged meal with them or parents will be informed that the student is missing lunch and encouraged to feed the student a healthy lunch.
Qualifications of Bridge Academy Food Service Staff and Cafeteria Supervisory Personnel
Qualified nutrition professionals will administer the Bridge Academy meal programs.
USDA staff development programs will be required for all Bridge Academy lunch service and supervisory personnel. Training will include appropriate certification and other programs emphasizing wellness. These programs are logged and reviewed in our annual audit to ensure that training requirements are met.
Cafeteria Monitors will also be trained on how best to manage and assist children in eating their lunches while maintaining a calm, orderly and relaxed environment.
Foods and Beverages Sold Individually
The Bridge Academy food service program will approve and provide all food and beverage sales to students in The Bridge Academy.
In The Bridge Academy, all foods and beverages sold individually outside the reimbursable Bridge Academy meal programs (including those sold a la carte, student stores, or fundraising activities) during the Bridge Academy day, or through programs for students after the Bridge Academy day, will meet the nutrition standards outlined in The Connecticut Nutrition Standards for Foods, and List of Acceptable Food and Beverages as listed in website listed earlier in this policy. The Connecticut Nutrition Standards are updated periodically by the State of Connecticut.
The Bridge Academy does not use vending machines.
The Bridge Academy does not sell caffeinated beverages and discourages students from bringing such beverages to school.
The only exceptions to the use of the Connecticut Nutrition Standards occur during bake sales held during parent conferences. These exceptions are approved and noted with the school’s Board of Directors yearly.
The Bridge Academy also tries to educate parents and staff with information on Smart Snacks as outlined by the USDA. The website for these snacks is https://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/tools-schools-focusing-smart-snacks.
The following recommendations are made to promote healthy choices for children related to fund-raising activities supported by Bridge Academy:
- Items such as books, gift wrap, candles, plants, flowers, Bridge Academy promotional items, etc. are suggested to replace food items.
The Bridge Academy prohibits fundraising during the regular and extended school day using food items that do not meet The Connecticut Nutrition Standards.
- Bridge Academy will encourage fundraising activities that promote physical activity.
- The following CSDE link provides information on healthy fundraising ideas:
Drinking water is available throughout the school day.
Connecticut schools must comply with federal and state regulations regarding the sale of competitive foods on school premises. “Competitive foods” refer to any foods or beverages sold or dispensed to children at school other than meals served through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s school meal programs. The Bridge Academy follows Competitive food regulations outlined in the Healthy Food Certification law. This prohibits the sale of caffeinated beverages among many other items.
Regulations allow schools to sell or dispense competitive foods, but only within certain time frames and only if foods meet certain criteria. Connecticut regulations, as they apply at The Bridge Academy, prohibit schools from selling or dispensing food or drink products to students anywhere on school premises from 30 minutes prior to lunch periods until 30 minutes after the end of lunch periods. In addition, income from the sale of any foods sold or distributed anywhere on the school premises during this time frame must accrue to the food service account.
Snacks served during the school day or in before or after-school care or enrichment programs will make a positive contribution to children’s diets and health, with an emphasis on serving fruits and vegetables as the primary snacks and water, 100% fruit juice, low-fat or fat-free milk or non-dairy milks as primary beverages. Schools will assess if and when to offer snacks based on timing of school meals, children’s nutritional needs, food allergies, children’s ages, and other considerations.
The district will disseminate a list of suggested healthful snack items to teachers, before and after- school program personnel, and parents. The needs of students with food allergies must always be considered. The Bridge Academy shall also provide training in the Smart Snack materials as outlined at the following USDA website: https://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/tools-schools-focusing-smart-snacks
Bridge Academy will not withhold food or beverages (including food served through Bridge Academy meals) as a punishment. Alternatives to food as rewards can be found on the following websites: www.tn.fcs.msue.msu.edu/foodrewards.pdf. The Bridge Academy also discourages the use of food or beverage as a reward.
Parties at Bridge Academy should include no more than one food or beverage that does not meet nutrition standards for foods and beverages sold individually (above). Bridge Academy will disseminate a list of healthy party ideas to parents and teachers. The needs of students with food allergies must be considered when making decisions about party foods and beverages. The following CSDE link provides information regarding healthy celebrations in school:
- Nutrition Promotion Through Health Education
The Bridge Academy’s aim is to teach, encourage, and support healthy eating by students. Bridge Academy provides nutrition education as part of a sequential, comprehensive, standards-based health education program designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to promote and protect their health.
The Health Education Program:
- promotes fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, low-fat and fat-free dairy products, healthy food preparation methods, and health-enhancing nutrition practices;
- emphasizes caloric balance between food intake and energy expenditure (physical activity/exercise);
- includes enjoyable, developmentally-appropriate, culturally-relevant, participatory activities, such as contests, promotions, taste testing, farm visits, and school gardens;
- links with school meal programs, other school foods, and nutrition-related community services;
- teaches media literacy with an emphasis on food marketing;
- educates students on skill based nutrition through the use of a food log, learning to read food labels and entering them into nutrition software.
- Links the foods students eat to agriculture and the food system.
- trains teachers and other staff in how to model and support healthy eating and physical activity.
- Food Marketing
Marketing will be consistent with nutrition education and health promotion. As such, Bridge Academy will limit food and beverage marketing to the promotion of foods and beverages
that meet the nutrition standards for meals or for foods and beverages sold individually. The promotion of healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products is encouraged.
Therefore, The Bridge Academy will not allow any marketing that does not come from a Government or non-profit entity promoting healthy eating or which does not meet Smart Snack standards. Marketing from private companies or food marketers that do not meet nutritional standards will not be allowed on any school property such as signs, scoreboards, trash containers, sports equipment or other educational materials, school publications and media, or through fundraisers or corporate incentive programs.
VII. Mental Health
School-Wide Social Emotional Improvement Activities
The Bridge Academy is committed to the social emotional well-being of our entire community. As such the school will investigate and implement programs that help students and adults with mental health challenges. There are currently three major programs addressing mental health for all students at The Bridge Academy.
- Circles of Power and Respect (CPR). This program is designed to provide students with a “soft landing” at the beginning of the school day. Students greet each other, participate in a “share” and then play a simple game on most mornings. Staff are trained to use this time to improve relationships, connection and cooperation among all students.
- Restorative Practices: Restorative practices focus on skill-building and relationships over punishment.
- Mindfulness – All students are taught the power of meditation and how to focus on the “now” of their physical state. Students are taught to take “time outs” and focus on their breath to be more aware of their mental state and to recognize and regulate their emotions.
Social Emotional Learning and Well-Being
The Bridge Academy has two social workers, a school counselor, and a Social Emotional Learning Coordinator on staff who work with students and staff to improve mental health and school culture and climate. All support staff meet with teachers and students to discuss strategies to help community members overcome obstacles and succeed. Social workers also refer students and parents to the many mental health providers in our community to support emotional wellbeing. We also partner with numerous community organizations such as Child Guidance and Full Circle Youth Empowerment to offer students and families wrap-around mental health and recreation services.
VIII. Staff Wellness
The Bridge Academy values the health and well-being of every staff member and will plan and implement activities and policies that support personal efforts by staff to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes administering staff mental health surveys twice yearly, having a quiet, calming dedicated teacher’s lounge with complimentary tea and coffee, invitations for staff to take part in Mindfulness and other mental health activities, regular reminders of and links to the school Employee Assistance Program, and time during Professional Development for mental health check-ins and discussion of stressors in school.
Bridge Academy staff are also encouraged to model healthy choices and behavior in the cafeteria. In addition, staff are encouraged to eat privately if they are engaging in unhealthy choices (soda, candy sweets, etc.).
Staff are encouraged to model physical activity by participating in the clubs they may supervise. Bridge Academy has staff that take part in wrestling, dance, and basketball along with students to model good exercise habits.
- Physical Activity Opportunities and Physical Education
Daily Physical Education (P.E.) 7-10
Students in grades 7, 8, 9, and 10, including students with disabilities, special health-care needs, and in alternative educational settings, will receive physical education for at least 100 minutes per week for at least half of the Bridge Academy year. All physical education will be taught by a certified physical education teacher with a curriculum and professional development consistent with guidelines set forth in Connecticut’s Physical Education standards.
Physical activity breaks (stretching, gentle calisthenics) are encouraged during class time. Every day at Bridge Academy begins with Circles of Power and Respect or advisory time that often takes the form of physical activity (Simon Says, time in the gym, bean bag toss, etc.). Students who struggle to sit still and focus are allowed to take movement breaks (e.g. a quick walk up and down the hall).
Student involvement in other activities involving physical activity (e.g., interscholastic or intramural sports) will not be substituted for meeting the physical education requirement. Students will spend at least 80-90 percent of physical education class time participating in moderate to vigorous physical activity. Students will learn a wide-range of lifetime activities that teach them ways to stay active at home and for a lifetime.
During Physical Education students will make their own personal fitness plan. Students will then track progress toward the goals set forth in their fitness plans over an eight week period.
Physical Education Class will have the same student/teacher ratio used in other classes (25/1). Student exemptions from Physical Education will be discouraged by school administration.
The Bridge Academy will develop a comprehensive school physical activity program. The Bridge Academy will encourage walking or biking to school (bike racks and indoor storage are available).
The Bridge Academy will not exempt a student from required physical education and there will be no substitution allowed for the physical education time requirement. However, students with injuries or illnesses that prevent them from participating in physical activities will be exempted from such activities for the duration of their injury/illness and will be given alternative tasks during class.
Physical Activity Opportunities After School
The Bridge Academy staff are encouraged to offer after school physical activity programs, such as physical activity clubs or intramural programs. The Bridge Academy offers interscholastic, coed sports programs (basketball, wrestling, flag football, pep squad, conditioning). We also offer free swim lessons through our after school program partner, The Cardinal Shehan Center.
Bridge Academy will offer a range of activities that meet the needs, interests, and abilities of all students, including boys, girls, students with disabilities, and students with special health-care needs. Emails, texts, flyers and brochures are used to advertise such activities. Posters and recruitment information for activities are also placed prominently throughout the school.
In addition, the school supports our students in playing interscholastic athletics for Bridgeport Public Schools. The Bridge Academy encourages students to try-out for the schools in the district where they live.
The Bridge Academy has in place several shared-use agreements (Caribe, New Creations Step, Greg Thomas Basketball Program) which allows other organizations to use our facilities free of charge. These joint use agreements expand after school exercise opportunities for our students and community.
Before and after school, Bridge Academy childcare and enrichment programs will encourage daily periods of moderate to vigorous physical activity for all participants. We will also make annual physical activity programs available, such as sports night, for families.
Physical Activity: Punishments and Rewards
Teachers and other Bridge Academy and community personnel will not use physical activity (e.g., running laps, pushups) or withhold opportunities for physical activity (e.g., recess, physical education) as punishment. Physical activity breaks are encouraged to be used for individual or classroom rewards
The Bridge Academy encourages the use of physical activity such as games and gym time as rewards for such things as improved attendance or grades.
- Monitoring of Procedure Implementation and Evaluation
The Governing Council (Wellness Advisory Committee) will monitor and evaluate the implementation of the District’s Wellness procedure and its nutrition and physical activity components, receive any recommendations of changes to the procedure and serve as a resource to Bridge Academy sites.
The committee shall meet a minimum of three times yearly to review the procedure to determine if it is meeting current needs and/or to revise the procedure based on those needs.
In addition to the monitoring of the Wellness Committee, the food services program in the Bridge Academy is continually monitored and evaluated by the Food Services Director and staff. Similarly, the health and physical education programs in schools are continually monitored and evaluated by the school Director and Principal.
The district will create and maintain a separate web page on the district’s website to inform and update the public (including parents, students, and others in the community) about the content and implementation of the local wellness policies. The web page will also measure periodically and make available to the public an assessment of the local wellness policy, including:
- the extent to which schools are in compliance with the local wellness policy;
- the extent to which the Bridge Academy’s wellness policy compares to model local school wellness policies;
- the progress made in attaining the goals of the local wellness policy.
Goals for Improvement
Short Term Goals
- Ensure Nutrition information is displayed for all menu items served in the cafeteria.
- Prepare and run professional development for all teachers on “Smart Snacks” to provide ideas for rewards and classroom celebrations.
- Create a list of movement break ideas and brainstorm with teachers on how to implement movement breaks within their classrooms.
Long Term Goals
- Build movement breaks into every day schedules.
- Provide Physical Education every day for all students.
- Create and build strategies to provide interventions for students with specific unhealthy behaviors.