Rochester School for the Deaf's Wellness Policy

Rochester School for the Deaf (“the School”) is committed to the optimal development of every student. The School believes that for students to have the opportunity to achieve personal, academic, developmental, and social success, we need to create positive, safe, and health-promoting learning environments at every level, in every setting, throughout the school year.

Given the documented connection between proper nutrition, adequate physical activity, and educational success, the policy outlines the school’s approach to ensuring environments and opportunities for all students to practice healthy eating and physical activity behaviors throughout the school day while minimizing commercial distractions. Specifically, this policy establishes and aims to ensure that:
  • Students have access to healthy foods throughout the school day - both through reimbursable school meals and other foods available throughout the school campus - in accordance with Federal and state nutrition standards;
  • Students receive quality nutrition education that helps them develop lifelong healthy eating behaviors;
  • Students have opportunities to be physically active before, during, and after school;
  • The School engages in nutrition and physical activity promotion and other activities that promote student wellness;
  • The school staff are encouraged and supported to practice healthy nutrition and physical activity behaviors in and out of school;
  • The community is engaged in supporting the work of the school in creating continuity between school and other settings for students and staff to practice lifelong healthy habits;
  • The School establishes and maintains an infrastructure for management, oversight, implementation, communication about, and monitoring of the policy and its established goals and objectives.
The School recognizes that a nutritious, well-balanced, reasonably-portioned diet is essential for student wellness. To help students possess the knowledge and skills necessary to make nutritious food choices for a lifetime, the School shall ensure that all foods and beverages available in school promote good nutrition balance and reasonable sizes. The School shall ensure that all foods and beverages available for sale to students on the school campus during the school day meet or exceed the program requirements and the nutrition standards found in federal regulations. The School participates in USDA child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP).

School Meals

The School will serve healthy and appealing foods and beverages following the federal and state nutrition guidelines. The School is committed to:
  • Offer reimbursable school meals that meet USDA nutrition standards.
  • Serve school meals that include fruits, vegetables, salads, whole grains, and low-fat items at least to the extent required by federal regulations, and provide students a variety of choices to maintain a balanced diet over the course of a school week.
  • Minimize serving food and beverages with the use of trans and saturated fats, sodium, and sugars as defined by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • Encourage students to try new or unfamiliar items.
  • Make free drinking water available to all students throughout the school day and throughout the school campus, including during mealtimes.
  • Make the best effort possible to schedule lunchtime at appropriate times (typically during normal lunch hours between 11 am and 1 pm) and to provide students with sufficient time to eat after sitting down for school meals.
  • Provide a clean, safe, enjoyable meal environment for students that reflects the social value of eating.
  • Make every effort to eliminate any social stigma attached to and prevent the overt identification of students who are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals. More information about the access to the school meal program is found here.
Food Service Department

The food service department follows strict Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to keep and maintain our kitchen facilities. In order to ensure food safety for our school, the Food Services Director must approve any requests for the use of our kitchen facilities for special events.

The Food Service Director must be properly qualified, certified and/or credentialed according to professional standards to administer the school food service program and satisfy reporting requirements. All of the school nutrition program staff will meet or exceed annual continuing education requirements in the USDA professional standards for child nutrition professionals.

Competitive Foods and Beverages

For the purpose of this policy, “school day” means the period from midnight the night before to 30 minutes after the end of the official school day (12 am - 3:30 pm), and “competitive food” means all food and beverages other than meals reimbursed under federal and state food programs available for sale to students on the school campus during the school day.

The School is committed to ensuring that all foods and beverages available to students on the school campus during the school day support healthy eating. The foods and beverages sold outside the school meal programs (competitive foods and beverages) will meet the USDA Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards, at a minimum. These standards will apply in the school campus and through all services where foods and beverages are sold, which may include, but are not limited to: a la carte options in the cafeteria, vending machines, school stores, and snack/food carts.

Only foods and beverages that meet or exceed the USDA Smart Snacks in Schools nutrition standards may be sold to students through fundraisers on the school campus during the school day. The School encourages fundraising that promotes the sale of non-food items, being mindful of healthy lifestyles.

Food advertising and marketing which includes, but is not limited to: brand names, logos, trademarks on school equipment or food service equipment, and advertisements in school publications or school mailings, is prohibited during the school day unless the items meet or exceed the USDA Smart Snacks in Schools nutrition standards.

Food for Celebrations and Snacks

This section applies to all school and classroom parties, snacks that have been bought in for the class and celebrations, food provided to learn about cultures or countries, and other events where food is provided, but not sold. This is to strongly encourage our classroom teachers to promote healthy options for classroom holiday parties and to discourage foods and beverages that do not meet federal nutrition standards at celebrations. Classroom celebrations should encourage healthy choices and portion control. The celebrations should be scheduled so they will not interfere with school meals.

Food for Rewards

School personnel are strongly discouraged from using food or beverages as rewards for classroom or specific students. School personnel will use other ways to reward good behavior, superior test scores, or other classroom goals met. Non-food rewards and incentives will be used as the first choice to encourage positive behavior. Foods and beverages will not be withheld as punishment for any reason, such as for performance or behavior.


Only foods and beverages that meet or exceed the USDA Smart Snacks in Schools nutrition standards may be sold to students through fundraisers on the school campus during the school day. The School encourages fundraising that promotes the sale of non-food items as well as activities that promote physical activities, and being mindful of healthy lifestyles.

All fundraisers taking place during the school day and outside of school hours must be approved by the department director and the Superintendent prior to the implementation of the fundraising activity. Student groups conducting fundraisers that take place off the school campus or outside the school day must be aware of the policy and are encouraged to follow this policy.

Nutrition Promotion and Education

The School believes that nutrition promotion and education is a key component in introducing and reinforcing healthy behaviors in students. Nutrition promotion and education that teaches the knowledge, skills, and values needed to adopt healthy eating behaviors shall be integrated into the curriculum. Nutrition topics will be integrated within the health education curriculum and other instructional areas such as classroom instruction in other subject areas such as mathematics, science, language arts, family and consumer science, and other elective subjects where appropriate. Nutrition instruction will follow applicable New York State Standards and be designed to help students acquire:
  • Nutrition knowledge, including but not limited to:
    • the benefits of healthy eating,
    • essential nutrients and nutritional deficiencies,
    • principles of healthy weight management,
    • the use and misuse of dietary supplements,
    • safe food storage, and,
    • handling and preparation.
  • Nutrition-related skills, including but not limited to:
    • planning healthy meals,
    • understanding and using food labels,
    • critically evaluating nutrition information, misinformation, and commercial food advertising,
    • assessing personal eating habits, and
    • setting achievable goals related to these concepts.
Nutrition promotion and education can include enjoyable, developmentally-appropriate, culturally-relevant, and participatory activities such as cooking demonstrations or lessons, promotions, taste-testing, farm visits, and school gardens. The School will encourage participation in the school meal program and promote healthy nutrition choices in our school environment. The students and staff will receive consistent nutrition messages throughout the school campus.
The School will provide opportunities for every student to participate in physical education and to be involved in physical activities. In doing so, the School encourages every student to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to perform a variety of physical activities, to regularly participate in physical activity, and to appreciate and enjoy physical activity as an ongoing part of a healthy lifestyle. In addition, staff, families, and the community are encouraged to participate in and model physical activity as a valuable part of daily life. The School’s Physical Education program shall adhere to the curricular requirements of the Commissioner of Education and the New York State Learning Standards.

Physical activity during the school day (including but not limited to recess, physical activity breaks, or physical education) will not be required or withheld as punishment for any reason.

Physical Education

The School will provide students with physical education, using an age-appropriate, sequential physical education curriculum with the New York State Learning Standards. The physical education curriculum will promote the benefits of a physically active lifestyle and will help students develop skills to engage in lifelong healthy habits, as well as incorporate essential health education concepts. Students (based on grade level) will engage in physical education for at least the minimum number of hours or days per week under State requirements.

All students will be provided equal opportunity to participate in physical education classes. The School will make appropriate accommodations to allow for equitable participation for all students and will adapt physical education classes and equipment as necessary. Student involvement in other physical activities such as extracurricular programs will not be substituted for meeting the physical education requirements.


The School strongly supports physical activity throughout the school day. All elementary students will be offered at least 20 minutes of recess on all or most days during the school year. Outdoor recess will be offered when the weather is feasible for outdoor play. In the event that the School must conduct indoor recess during inclement weather, teachers and staff promote physical activity for students, to the extent practicable.

Physical Activity in the Classroom

Teachers will incorporate the integration of physical activity in the classroom, both as activity breaks and as part of the educational process such as kinesthetic learning approaches. Students will be offered periodic opportunities to be active or to stretch throughout the day on all or most days during a typical school week. These physical activity breaks will complement, not substitute, physical education class, recess, and class transition periods. When feasible, professional learning opportunities and resources for staff can be offered to help increase knowledge and skills about promoting healthy behaviors in the classroom and school.

Extracurricular Opportunities for Physical Activity

The School will promote clubs and athletic program activities that meet the various physical activity needs, interests, and abilities of all students, including before and after school activities. All students will be encouraged and given the opportunity to join these extracurricular activities.

Other School-Based Activities

The School may implement other appropriate programs that help create a school environment that conveys consistent wellness messages and is conducive to healthy eating and physical activity. Such activities may include, but are not limited to:
  • Hosting or promoting health forums or fairs, employee health and wellness activities, or community-wide events;
  • Providing after-school programs for students that occur after school hours, including physical activity or nutrition-related components of school-based programs;
  • Communicating to families and the community via electronic/non-electronic mechanisms on health or nutrition topics and school-sponsored activities;
  • Promoting staff wellness through physical activities and/or nutrition services/programs designed for the health of the staff;
  • Providing counseling, psychological, nursing, and social health services that safeguard the physical, emotional, and social well-being of students; and,
  • Providing access to the school facilities for the use of physical activities and/or health/nutrition-related programs for staff and the community, following the school policy for the use of facilities.
Wellness Committee

The School will convene a wellness committee that meets at least two times per year to establish goals for and oversee school health and safety policies and programs, including development, implementation, periodic review, and update of the wellness policy. The wellness committee membership may include, but is not limited to: Administrators, School Food Service Director and school food service staff, teachers and school health professionals (ex: nurses, health education/physical education teachers, and school support services staff), parents/guardians, board members, students, and the general community. The School shall designate the Director of Business Operations to be responsible for ensuring that the provisions of the wellness policy are carried out.

The wellness committee will assess current activities and programs within the wellness policy, identify specific areas of need for the School, and provide mechanisms for implementation, evaluation, effectiveness, and revision of the wellness policy over time. This is to ensure that the School meets the goals and mandates of its local wellness policy.
If you are interested in joining the Wellness Committee, please fill out THIS FORM or contact Sally Atkins.

Monitoring and Reporting

The School will retain records to document compliance with the requirements of the wellness policy, including the annual progress reports, the triennial assessments, and committee meeting minutes. The annual progress reports will be available via the school website and/or the school newsletter. These reports will include the website address for the wellness policy, a description of progress in meeting the wellness policy goals, a summary of wellness events or activities, contact information of the leader(s) of the wellness committee, and information on how individuals can get involved in the wellness committee’s work. Evaluation and feedback from interested parties are welcomed as an essential part of the process throughout the school year.

At least every three years, the triennial assessment of the School’s wellness policy and implementation efforts will be reviewed and evaluated. The triennial assessment report will include the compliance of the wellness policy, information on how the policy compares to the model wellness policy, and a description of the progress made in attaining the goals of the wellness policy. The triennial assessment will also be available via the school website and the school newsletter.

The wellness committee and the School will update or modify the wellness policy based on the results of the annual progress reports and triennial assessments, and/or as the School’s priorities change; community needs change; wellness goals are met, new health science, information, and technology emerges; and new Federal or state regulations are issued. The wellness policy will be assessed and updated as indicated at least every three years.