Wellness Policy

Nutrition and physical activity are essential for students to achieve their academic and physical potential. Montgomery County Public Schools is committed to creating a school culture that promotes and protects children's health, well-being and ability to learn by supporting healthy eating and physical activity.

A wellness policy workgroup consisting of administrative staff, students, parents, community members, health and wellness professionals met to draft a policy addressing the creation of a healthy learning environment by providing nutrition education, physical education, physical activity and a variety of healthy food and beverage options.

In 2006, the Board of Education officially adopted a wellness policy supporting a school environment that provides opportunities for students to engage in healthy eating habits and physical activity and to provide instruction to support a healthy lifestyle. Click here to access Wellness: Physical and Nutritional Health JPG-RA.

POLICY Board of Education of Montgomery County: Wellness: Physical and Nutritional Health adopted by resolution No. 203-06, April 20, 2006.
REGULATION Montgomery County Public Schools: Wellness: Physical and Nutritional Health adopted July 22, 2006, revised March 2, 2012.
LETTER OF COMMENDATION from the Maryland State Department of Education addressing the MCPS Wellness Policy.

MCPS Nutrition Action Plan

We support healthy meal options for students and continually explore new ways to enhance the nutritional contribution and student acceptability of meals. All foods available during the school day including vending machines and a la carte, not only meet current USDA guidelines and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, but also the specific nutritional requirements of the MCPS Wellness Policy. Portion sizes are "right sized" and recipe ingredients and preparation methods are evaluated to meet nutritional goals. School meals provide a variety of foods and allow students to learn to recognize proper portion sizes and balanced meals. We are committed to providing students with the opportunity to make smart food choices.

Current Initiatives

  • Continue to introduce additional whole grain foods and monitor student acceptability.
  • Continue to reduce overall sodium content of menus.
  • Expand the variety of meatless and/or vegetarian entrées offered.
  • Continue to expand communications and community outreach.

Recent Achievements

  • Provided nutrient and allergen information of menu items on our website.
  • Eliminated artificial trans-fat from menu items.
  • Increased the availability of fresh fruit, vegetable and salad choices.
  • Modified recipes to reduce fat and sodium content.
  • Provided menus in print and on our website in the Spanish language to increase communications and outreach.
  • Participated in an independent research study to determine the acceptance of soy products in middle schools.
  • Partnered with Family and Consumer Science (FACS) classes to evaluate vegan and whole grain products.
  • Accepted responsibility for the MCPS vending program to support a healthy school environment.
  • Established nutrition guidelines for all products sold a la carte and in vending machines which meet the nutritional requirements of the MCPS Wellness Policy.
  • Expanded the number of schools participating in the After School Snack Program and Maryland Meals for Achievement (universal breakfast program).

Food Safety

Serving safe food is a high priority for Food and Nutrition Services staff. More than 800 employees work in elementary, middle and high school cafeterias, the food services central production facility, food services warehouse and central office to provide safe and nutritious meals to the students of Montgomery County. We are proud of our long record of serving safe and nutritious meals.

We follow proper food safety procedures in all aspects of handling food, from receiving and storing to preparing and serving food and use Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) procedures to monitor and record critical temperatures. Products prepared in the temperature-controlled central production facility, as well as products received from many vendors are delivered in refrigerated trucks. School foodservice staffs follow standard operating procedures to prepare and serve safe foods to our customers.

Health inspections are routinely conducted by the Montgomery County Health Department Office of Licensure and Regulatory Services. The inspection reports and licenses are posted in the kitchen/cafeteria area and can be viewed by the public. In addition, managers conduct HACCP self-inspections in their school twice a year.

Cafeteria managers are certified in food safety and all employees receive food safety training both on the job and at regular in-service meetings.

Nutrition and Allergen Information

We welcome the opportunity to provide parents with information that will allow your child to participate in your school’s meal programs. The information provided is based on current information from manufacturers, recipes for MCPS produced items, and nutritional analysis software.

Please be aware that there are factors that may affect a product’s actual nutritional value and/or ingredient composition at any given time:

  • Manufacturers’ formulations may change without notice.
  • USDA donated products may become available at any time during the year and may replace a purchased item.
  • Product brands may change during the year as new bids are approved.
  • Schools may be using inventory from a previous bid or manufacturer.
  • MCPS recipes may change during the school year.
  • A la carte snack items vary from school to school, so check with the cafeteria manager at your student’s school for specific information and/or to restrict purchases.

This information is updated prior to the start of each school year, and is updated as changes occur. Please check periodically for changes and/or updates. Due to space restrictions, the abbreviations below have been utilized on the nutrient and allergen pages.

  • WG - Whole Grain
  • WW - Whole Wheat
  • HP - Elementary hot pack meal
  • CC, CP, PP - MCPS produced items
  • (E) - Elementary Schools
  • (M) - Middle Schools
  • (H) - High Schools
  • (S) - Secondary Schools (Middle & High Schools)
  • (ALT) - Alternative Schools

Nutrient Information

Nutrition Data PDF 1/15/2019

Allergen

Allergen Data PDF 1/15/2019

Guidance for Accommodating Students with Severe Peanut and Tree Nut Allergies

Nut Allergies PDF 6/29/2017

Kosher and Halal Labeled Information

Kosher & Halal PDF 9/27/2017

Gluten Free & No Gluten Ingredients

Gluten Free: These foods contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. They are naturally gluten free (such as fresh fruits and vegetables) or tested and certified less than 20 ppm.

No Gluten Ingredients: The ingredients do not include gluten but the products are not tested for gluten and/or may be at risk for cross contamination.

GF=Gluten Free | NGI=No Gluten Ingredients

Entrees/Proteins

  • Beef Pattie: GF
  • BBQ Chicken Drummies: NGI
  • Chicken Ham, sliced: NGI
  • Chicken Pepperoni: NGI
  • Cheeses: Pepperjack, Sliced American, Shredded, & String
  • Chickpeas, Roasted: GF
  • Egg Patties: GF
  • Ham, Virginia: GF
  • Hummus Cups: GF
  • Fruit 'n Yogurt Parfait, Omit Granola: NGI
  • Philly Steak, Beef, with Cheese Sauce: NGI
  • Sausage Links/Patties, Pork: GF
  • Taco Meat: NGI
  • Turkey Franks: NGI
  • Turkey, Thanksgiving: NGI
  • Turkey Breast, sliced: NGI

Grains/Cereals

  • Oatmeal, Instant Maple: NGI
  • Multi-Grain Cheerios®
  • Rice Krispies®, Brown Rice: NGI
  • Rice, WG: NGI
  • Rice, Lime Cilantro: NGI
  • Taco Pieces, Bulk: GF
  • Tostitos® Scoops® and Rounds: GF

Prepared Recipes

  • Cheese Sauce for Nachos/Philly Steak: NGI
  • Chicken Salsa Verde: NGI
  • Marinara Sauce: NGI
  • Spaghetti Sauce, with Meat (Smith Center): NGI

Fruits/Juices

  • All Fruits, Fresh, Frozen, Canned, Dried & 100 % Juices: GF
  • Sorbet, Whole Fruit: GF

Vegetables

  • All Vegetables, Except WG Onion Rings & Szechuan Green Beans: NGI
  • Soups: Ancient Grains: NGI

Milk

  • All varieties: GF
  • Soy Milk: GF

Miscellaneous/Condiments

  • Bacon, Pork: NGI
  • Cream Cheese Spread: GF
  • Catsup, bulk/Packet: GF
  • Cranberry Sauce: GF
  • Dressings, Ranch, Salsa Ranch & Universal: NGI
  • Hot Sauce, Texas Pete: GF
  • Jelly, Bulk/Packet: GF
  • Salsa: GF
  • Syrup: GF

Snacks/Beverages/A La Carte

  • Doritos®, White Wild: NGI
  • Fruit Snacks: GF
  • Fruit Wave Water: GF
  • Ice Cream Novelties: Cups, Fudge-O-Bar: GF
  • Kettle Chips: NGI
  • Popcorn, Smartfood: GF
  • Taco Pieces, Bulk: GF
  • Tostitos® Rounds & Scoops®: GF

Frequently Asked Questions

My child has special dietary needs. How does MCPS provide for them?

Additional and/or more specific information is available by contacting the Food and Nutrition Services office at 301-284-4900.

My child has a milk allergy. How do I arrange for milk-free foods?

Please provide a doctor's note to the cafeteria manager at your child's school. The cafeteria manager will record this information. Food items that contain milk proteins are found on the Nutrient and Allergen Information List.

My child is diabetic. What can be done to help keep the diabetes under control when he/she eats at school?

Nutrient information, including carbohydrate content of menu items, is available on the Nutrient and Allergen Information list.

Our family is vegetarian. Are vegetarian lunches provided?

Meatless options are available during the week and indicted on menus with the [^] symbol. These include grilled cheese sandwiches, cheese pizzas, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. By talking with the cafeteria manager, an arrangement may be made to provide your child with a meatless meal if one is not part of the selections on a specific day. The manager will need to know at the beginning of the day if your child is present and wants a substitute meal. Families following strict vegan regimes may need to provide lunch from home.

My child is trying to lose weight. What options are available in the school cafeteria?

Portion sizes are standardized and don't permit "super sizing". Menus are planned to provide the proper calorie and nutritional content for children within each age range. If your child wants to select lower calorie options from the menus, the calorie content of menu items is available on the Nutrient and Allergen Information list.

Where can I find nutritional information about menu items served in the school cafeterias?

Nutrient (calories, fat sodium, etc.) and allergen (wheat dairy, eggs, etc.) information for breakfast and lunch menu items for elementary, middle, and high school menus is found on the Nutrient and Allergen Information list. Generally, the information is current for the school year, but updates are made if new products are introduced, recipes are modified, or manufacturer's information changes - so it is a good idea to check for updates periodically.

MCPS strives to maintain accurate and up-to-date information; however due to factors mentioned above, guarantees are not possible. Information is provided as a guide to help students and parents make the best selections possible for their individual situations.

Nutrition Requirements for Meals

School Meals are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Menus are planned to meet and exceed the established nutritional guidelines. The school menus are planned to have 30 percent or less calories from fat, 10 percent or less of calories from saturated fat, 0 grams trans-fat, and calorie ranges for each grade level. All menus meet the guidelines of the Healthier US School Challenge (HUSSC).

The Division of Food and Nutrition Services analyzes and evaluates menus regularly in order to ensure that the USDA guidelines are met. In addition, the Maryland State Department of Education, School and Community Nutrition Programs Branch conduct an annual review of operations and menus.

Look What is New on the Menu

MCPS school meals already meet or exceed many of the new requirements, so students will notice only small changes on the menus.

  • Students must select at least ½ cup of fruit or vegetable at breakfast.
  • Students must select at least ½ cup of fruit or vegetable at lunch.
  • The menus are age appropriate and separated by grade group: Kindergarten through 5th grade, 6th through 8th grade and 9th through 12th grade.
  • The menus offer a rainbow of colors of fruits and vegetables with more choices available to students.
  • 100% of grains on the menu are whole grain.
  • We continue to offer only fat-free and 1% low-fat milk.
  • No foods contain trans- fat and saturated fat is limited to less than 10% of calories.
  • Menu items contain less sodium.
  • All cafeteria serving lines have a poster showing the food groups by color (the same as on ChooseMyPlate) and all food items are labeled by food group on the serving line. The poster explains to the students which food groups can make a lunch and that a fruit or vegetable must be included with lunch.

We will continue to introduce new menu items throughout the school year.