Healthy Parks Amendment Act of 2018: Community Action Guide
Prepared by the DC Food Policy Council’s Working Group on Food Equity, Access, and Health & Nutrition Education
With 1 in 7 households and 26% of families with children facing some form of food hardship or insecurity, expanding and building on the federal child nutrition programs makes sense. These programs not only improve children’s health, nutrition, and well-being, but also draw in federal dollars to serve any eligible child.
The Child and Adult Food Program’s At-Risk Afterschool Meals program is perfectly tailored for use by the Department of Recreation and Parks (DPR) to serve nutritious meals and snacks to children participating in enrichment programs after school, on weekends, or during school holidays. DPR sponsors summer meals for over 200 sites during the Free Summer meals program and currently provides afterschool meals to a select number of sites through a non-profit sponsor. The Department could very easily provide federally-funded meals year-round to children struggling with hunger by expanding its sponsorship to afterschool, weekend, school break and special camp programs offered during the school year.
What does this bill do?
The Healthy Parks Amendment Act of 2018 aims to improve access to healthy foods at our city’s Department of Parks and Recreation sites:
- Updates nutritional standards for food and beverages provided, offered or sold at parks and recreation facilities,
- Requires DPR to offer youth attending after school programs and other eligible youth a supper meal through the Child and Adult Care Food Programs At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program, to leverage federal funding and improve access to healthy meals for youth that utilize their programming.
- Coordinate with OSSE, DCPS and other Out-Of-school Time partners to provide outreach to eligible families for afterschool and summer meals.
- The legislation also seeks to have the Department of Health create a mobile summer meals bus. The DCFPC notes that details around a summer meals mobile bus will need more details and potential piloting before rolling out a full program.
How can you help make this bill a real law?
On Monday, March 5, 2018 at 11:00AM, the Committee on Transportation and the Environment will hold a public hearing on B22-681, the Healthy Parks Amendment Act of 2018. The hearing will take place in room 412 of the John A. Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC). In-person testimonies make a big difference to our Councilmembers, so making the time to join this hearing will have a big impact on the bill’s outcomes!
What do I have to do if I want to participate in this hearing?
Those who wish to testify should contact Ms. Aukima Benjamin, Staff Assistant to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment at (202)724-8062 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and provide your name, organizational affiliation (if any), and title with the organization. You must bring 15 copies of your written testimony to the hearing.
As an individual, you will have 3 minutes to speak, and if you represent an organization or business, you may have up to 5 minutes. Written testimony can be as long as you’d like, but what you say to the Council needs to fit in those time frames. Remember that one page of double-spaced text (about 250 words) takes about 2 minutes to read aloud, so we recommend planning your remarks accordingly. After you testify, the Council may ask follow-up questions about what you’ve said and why you care about this issue.
- In terms of structuring your testimony, we recommend:
- Thanking the Councilmembers for convening this hearing and considering this bill;
- Briefly introducing yourself and/or your organization/business;
- Explaining why you care about the issue of healthy food access and childhood hunger;
- 4Sharing why the Department of Parks and Recreation’s leadership in providing nutritious meals is essential;
- 5Explaining how one or more of pieces of this bill will make a difference to you, your organization, or your community;
- Expressing any concerns you might have about elements of this bill that might be incomplete or in need of additional clarification;
- Close by thanking the Councilmembers for listening and re-stating clearly whether you think the Council should support this legislation and make it a law of DC;
Lastly, be sure to practice reading your testimony aloud before the big day, and timing how long it takes you. Practicing will help you stay on time and make your points clearly and succinctly.
What can I do if I can’t testify that day?
You can still submit written testimony to Ms. Aukima Benjamin, Staff Assistant to the Committee on Transportation and the Environment at email@example.com
Any other questions?
Thank you for being a part of the movement to expand access to healthy food in our community! Please direct any questions or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.