Member Survey Results & Other News
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May 17, 2016

RFKM Member Priority Survey Results

It’s the results you’ve all been waiting for! The top ten parent concerns from RFKM’s 2016 Member Priorities Survey are below. You can see the complete ratings here. For the second year in a row, the most important issue for MCPS parents is getting rid of so many junk food options, like burgers, fries, pizza and processed chicken at all grade levels. While we have heard the MCPS Division of Food and Nutrition Services’ defense that they are serving healthier versions of junk food (e.g., chicken nuggets are baked, have a whole wheat breading and are pure muscle meat), we’re not totally sure whether parents care about this or not, or whether the are just concerned about training their kids to eat a variety of meals, not just those appearing on most kids’ menus. We’d love your quick feedback (via e-mail) about that.

Top 10 Parent Concerns
1. At the elementary school level, increasing the amount of wholesome food options and reducing the amount of “junk” food options (e.g., burgers, fries, pizza, processed chicken).
2. At the middle and high school level. increasing the amount of wholesome food options and reducing the amount of “junk” food options (e.g., burgers, fries, pizza, processed chicken).
3. Moving from processed, pre-plated and reheated food to food cooked from scratch at the central facility with more prep work done on site at schools with kitchens.
4. Removing or reducing marketing of unhealthy foods in school.
5. A limited set of healthier a la carte items for elementary schools.
6. Removing other remaining chemicals characterized as “avoid” or “caution” by the Center for Science in the Public Interest from school food.
7. A limited set of healthier a la carte items for middle and high schools.
8. Reducing the sugar in all school foods.
9. Offering unlimited fruits and vegetables free to all children who purchase lunch.
10. Putting salad bars in all middle and high schools.

Scratch cooking moved from 7th to 3rd place in this year’s survey, perhaps because we broke apart having a healthier set of a la carte items in elementary and secondary schools into two questions, which scored 5th and 7th respectively. An exciting new dark horse priority appeared in 4th place this year as we asked for the first time about removing marketing of unhealthy foods in schools. We’re excited to take on this new parent priority that has a lot of national momentum behind it. This pushed working for healthier daytime vending options into 11th place and out of the top ten.
Removing chemicals and reducing the sugar in school foods continue to be top parent priorities, as does offering unlimited fruits and vegetables to all children. And while we found strong support for putting salad bars into all middle and high schools, with that priority ranking 10th, we found much lower support for putting salad bars in elementary schools, which scored only 31st. This is likely due to to a lack of parent familiarity with the success of elementary school salad bars, which we hope we have changed after our Salad Bar Summit. In addition, cost can be an issue in implementing salad bars in the upper grades, as schools have so little to spend on food, necessitating charging by the ounce for secondary school salads. This can make the price of a salad prohibitive for many families and lead to lack of use of the salad bar. In elementary schools, in contrast, salads are generally included as part of the Free and Reduced Priced or set price meal (although usually as a side dish). Currently, MCPS has about 20 salad bars in all types of schools and offers daily full meal and side salad options in all secondary schools.
We had an average of 420 responses per question (many quit mid-survey), which represents a response rate of 18.2% of our identified parent members, who currently number 2305. However, we did discover that about 15% of survey respondents did not have children in school. Of all people invited to take the survey (3544), we had a 13.9% response rate for completing any portion of the survey.
We take these results very seriously in determining where to focus our efforts each year, in combination with advice from our Advisory Board and knowledge gained of what is possible/probable. So thank you to everyone who took the time to participate.

Complete Survey Results

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Can You Partner With Us?

Do you think RFKM has been doing a good job this year promoting healthier food for Montgomery County's kids? Have you made a donation to support our work yet this year? We depend on member donations for about 1/3 of our budget. Please give if you can. 


Free, Bilingual Business Training For Aspiring Food Entrepreneurs

Crossroads Community Food Network offers a 10-part workshop series that covers food safety basics, business fundamentals, mentoring, technical assistance in applying to local community kitchens, and connections to a network of local food producers and farmers. If you are thinking of starting a business in the DC Metro area or if you need guidance in taking your business to the next level, please contact Karina.

BCC Students Win Award to Improve Cafeteria

Congratulations to Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School students Elena de Toledo (RFKM Elena_de_ToledoStudent Advisory Board Member, right) and Helena Hailu, (below) who won an award from the Learn Serve program for a $450 grant to make improvements Helena_Hailuto their high school cafeteria space. Their goal is to make the space nicer by adding better furniture, a mural and maybe even a TV. According to de Toledo, “If we can physically bring more people from all backgrounds into the cafeteria, that would close some of the divides and hopefully bring more people to eat the food. It's exciting that more people are becoming aware and involved.” Both students testified powerfully before the MCPS Board of Education on February 22 about the racial segregation in the cafeteria and the stigma associated with eating school food.

MCPS Middle School Meal Options Last Week

French Toast Sticks, Cheese Sticks, Fries
Side Salad and Meal Salad Options  - - (301) 202-4812

Real Food for Kids - Montgomery is a 
grassroots parent and student advocacy group working to promote
whole, real, local, sustainable and nutrient-rich foods in the Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland.


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