Health and Wellness

Wellness Policy (Política de Bienestar .pdf)

KIPP Austin Public Schools founds its Wellness Programs on the following values:

We believe…

  • that healthy children are the foundation of a healthy society.
  • that well-nourished and physically-fit children are better able to learn.
  • that eating and exercise habits developed in childhood will affect our students’ health throughout their lives.
  • in real food. Eating food in its most natural state is the healthiest for our bodies. Food that comes in packages often has artificial colors and flavors and preservatives that are not good for our long-term health.
  • that growing, preparing and sharing food nourishes both our bodies and minds. Few things are more pleasurable than growing our own food, preparing it with friends and family and sharing it together. These simple acts feed our bodies and nourish our spirits.
  • that all people deserve equal access to nutritious, fresh foods, regardless of the neighborhood they live in, or their income level.
  • that beautifully-prepared meals communicate care. Cooking a good meal for someone is one way we show students, their families, and our staff that we care about them.
  • in celebrating food traditions and cultures. No celebration is complete without delicious food, one of the most enriching and fun ways to better understand and experience culture.
  • that we have the power to restore our environment through our food choices. Caring for the earth and the animals that provide us food are important steps toward restoring the health of our planet.
  • that purchasing foods from local farmers and businesses creates a strong community. We build relationships with our neighbors and contribute to our local economy by making this a priority. Plus, locally grown food is healthier for our bodies!
  • that the cafeteria is a classroom. In the cafeteria we teach what balanced, nutritious meals look like and how to demonstrate positive character traits at mealtimes.

Statement of Responsibility

KIPP Austin Public Schools Board recognizes that there is a link between nutrition education, the food served in schools, physical activity, and environmental education, and that student and staff wellness is affected by all of these. The Board also recognizes the important connection between a healthy diet and a student’s ability to learn effectively and achieve high standards in school.

The Board recognizes that it is the District’s role, as part of the larger community, to model and actively practice, through policies and procedures: the promotion of family health, physical activity, good nutrition, sustainable agriculture, and environmental restoration.

The Board further recognizes that the sharing and enjoyment of food, and participation in physical activities are fundamental experiences for all people and are a primary way to nurture and celebrate our cultural diversity. These fundamental human experiences are vital bridges for building friendships, forming inter-generational bonds and strengthening communities.


  • Whereas, a healthy diet is connected to a student’s ability to learn effectively and achieve high standards in school;
  • Whereas, students who are physically fit are more likely to do well on the state’s standardized tests;
  • Whereas, an African American or Hispanic boy born in 2000 has a two in five lifetime risk of being diagnosed with diabetes and an African American or Hispanic girl has a one in two lifetime risk;
  • Whereas, the prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. The prevalence of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0% to 18.1%;
  • Whereas, Texas is second in the nation for having the most food-insecure children, which means children do not know where their next meal is coming from;
  • Whereas, each day students and their parents trust that the foods offered at school are wholesome and safe, and that the school is responsible for ensuring the safety of foods provided there;
  • Whereas, fresh, seasonal, local and sustainably grown foods are a recommended source of nutrition, and prepackaged, highly processed foods are typically higher in sugar and transfats and, additionally, create a solid waste packaging management problem and expense for school districts;
  • Whereas, public school is an excellent place to nurture and preserve food traditions through garden-based learning experiences, food served in the cafeteria, connections to the core curriculum, cooking classes and/or clubs, storytelling, recipe swapping and rediscovering healthier food systems.

School Health Advisory Council

What is a School Health Advisory council (SHAC)?

The School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) is a group of individuals representing segments of the community and school district.  SHAC members provide advice to the district on Coordinated School Health (CSH) programming, with the goal of improving student health and learning.  Every independent school district is required by law to have a SHAC.  The majority of members must be parents who are not employed by the school district.

The Kipp Austin Public Schools SHAC meets a minimum of four times per year to discuss issues and recommendations related to eight key CSH areas: Nutrition Services, Health Services, Health Education, Physical Education, Social Services & Counseling, School Safety, Parent & Community Involvement and Staff Wellness. Sub-committees of SHAC may meet more frequently to develop, implement, monitor or review progress related to a specific CSH component.

The goal of SHAC is to identify potential CSH areas of growth and to share opportunities with school and district leaders. Texas Education Agency requires that SHAC proposals be presented to the Board at the end of each school year for approval and implementation the following school year.

If you are a parent, teacher or staff member who wants to be involved with the work of SHAC, please contact

Dr. K. Leigh Forell at

2017-2018 SHAC meeting dates:

  • Wednesday, October 25, 2017, 11:30am, Austin Ridge campus portable room 31
  • January 2018 TBD
  • March 2018 TBD
  • May 2018 TBD
2016-2017 SHAC meeting dates:
  • Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 11:30am, Austin Ridge campus portable room 31
  • Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 11:30am, Austin Ridge campus portable room 31
  • Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 11:30am, Austin Ridge campus portable room 31
  • Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 11:30am, Austin Ridge campus portable room 31

SHAC Laws:

Every independent school system is required by law to have a School District Health Advisory Council; Chapter 28, Section 28.004 of the Texas Education Code details the specifics of this mandate and can be found by clicking here.

If the public would like to obtain a copy of the previous year's SHAC final report, please email with a formal request. 

Nutrition Education

To help ensure the health and well-being of each student attending KIPP Austin Public Schools, and to provide guidance to school personnel in the areas of nutrition, health, physical activity, and food service, the governing board encourages teachers, principals, and food service employees to recognize the lunch period as an integral part of the educational program of the district and to work to implement the goals of this policy.

The governing board will ensure the following:

  • An economically sustainable meal program will make available a nutritious breakfast, lunch and snack to every student at every school so that students are prepared to learn to their fullest potential.
  • Food Services will work toward a minimum of 75% of meals served and sold at school shall be prepared from fresh ingredients, and to the extent possible from locally grown or produced  ingredients. [Editor’s Note: As of January 2017, approximately 65% of meals served and sold are prepared from scratch.]
  • Reimbursable meals shall not be less restrictive than the regulations and guidelines of the Child Nutrition Act and the National School Lunch Act.
  • Food items served and sold in schools shall reflect the cultural diversity of the student body.
  • Food Services shall publicize and post information on the nutritional content of food served and a summary of laws and school district policies pertaining to nutrition. This information will be available by request from the Food Services team.
  • School Leaders will be encouraged to schedule lunch periods so that students do not have to eat lunch unusually early or late, and ideally, so that they eat after periods of exercise.
  • There shall be nutrition standards regulating all food and beverages sold or served at school, including school meals, a la carte items, vended items, items sold as fundraisers, and items given to students as part of a celebration.
  • Access to food or water may not be used as a reward or punishment for academics or behavior.
  • Meals will be attractively presented and served in a pleasant environment with sufficient time for  eating, while fostering good eating habits, enjoyment of meals, good manners, and respect for others.
  • At each cafeteria site, students shall play a role in a recycling and composting program that maximizes the reduction of waste by recycling, reusing, and composting.
  • Elementary and middle schools shall not have vending machines or school stores with food items accessible by students. Any high school or staff vending machine will contain items that align with nutrition standards for the district.
  • Schools and School Food Service will promote food-centered activities that are healthful, enjoyable, developmentally appropriate, culturally relevant, and participatory, such as contests, promotions, taste testing, farm visits, school gardens, and cooking lessons and demonstrations.
  • A culinary garden will be established to provide food for the full-service kitchen at Austin Ridge. A  program will be created that ultimately provides opportunities for all students at Austin Ridge to participate in the growing, harvesting, preparing and sharing of this food.
  • Schools in the district will be encouraged to establish an instructional garden of sufficient size to provide students with experiences in planting, harvesting, preparation and tasting foods, including celebrations and events that observe food traditions, integrated with nutrition education and core curriculum.

Competitive Foods, Fundraising, Vending, After School Activities, Sack Lunches

Smart Snacks Standards Defined

Any food sold in schools must: Be a “whole grain-rich” grain product; or Have as the first ingredient a fruit, a vegetable, a dairy product, or a protein food; or Be a combination food that contains at least ¼ cup of fruit and/or vegetable; or Contain 10% of the Daily Value (DV) of one of the nutrients of public health concern in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (calcium, potassium, vitamin D, or dietary fiber).

*Foods must also meet several nutrient requirements:

                        Calorie limits:

                        Snack items: ≤ 200 calories

                        Entrée items: ≤ 350 calories

                        Sodium limits:

                         Snack items: ≤ 230 mg

                        Entrée items: ≤ 480 mg

                        Fat limits:

                        Total fat: ≤35% of calories

                        Saturated fat: < 10% of calories

                        Trans fat: zero grams

                        Sugar limit:

                        ≤ 35% of weight from total sugars in foods

The Smart Snacks nutrition standards apply to all competitive foods sold to students during the school day on all areas of the school campus, in all schools.

Competitive Foods Defined

Includes all food and beverages that are not provided by school food service. This includes items sold in vending machines, in school stores or through school fundraisers conducted by parents or other groups and organizations. Outside food and beverages provided for events such as pizza parties, etc., are also considered competitive.

  • Students at the K-8 level will not be involved in the sale of candy, sodas, cookies, sweets or other foods of minimal nutritional value at any school-sponsored event or for any fundraising activity. 
  •  No unhealthy food or beverage items may be advertised on school grounds. (Examples include sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, chips, pastries or other snack foods)
  • Neither the district nor individual schools may sign exclusive contracts with soft drink, fast food, or snack food companies.
  • Sack meals or snacks brought from home must fit the Smart snack standards. No sodas or candy are allowed in student meals brought from home. In the event a student brings food items that do not fit the Smart Snack Standards, a note will be sent home with the student outlining what food items are acceptable to bring.
  • All foods in celebration of a student or staff member’s birthday in class or during meal times must meet the Smart Snack Standards. Foods that meet the KAPS nutrition standards may be supplied after lunch service. Schools and parents will be provided a list of suggested nutritious celebration foods.


  • Health care: School nurses providing individual health care to students.
  • School events: One serving of one non Smart Snack standards can be served at up to two different school-wide events that occur during the school day. These special events are determined by each campus. These events should be for celebrations only. They should not be used as a reward for learning or meeting behavior expectations. These non-Smart Snack foods can never be given during meal times. Celebrations can center on birthdays, holidays, the addition of new team members or staff, saying good-bye to a student moving out of the district, etc.
  • Athletic, UIL, Band and Other Competitions: Policy applies to students who leave campus to travel to athletic, UIL, band or other competitions. Food offered to students by any school within the KAPS district must be in line with the policy.

A la carte

  • A permission form with a la carte guidelines must be signed by all KAPS parents before a student is able to participate in the a la carte program.
  • Food Service should encourage purchase of nutritious items by pricing healthy a la carte items affordably so that all students regardless of meal status may participate with parent permission.
  • Lunch procedures must allow for all students with a signed permission form to participate in the a la carte program. This program is never to be used as a punishment or reward for academics or behavior.
  • To ensure that all students eat a nutritionally balanced meal, students may purchase only one of each type of a la carte per meal.
  • Teachers and Food Service will encourage students to eat as much of their reimbursable meal as possible before purchasing a la carte items. Teachers and Food Service are encouraged to contact parents if they feel the a la carte program regularly interferes with the student eating a nutritious lunch.

Integrating Food Service with School Educational, Health and Environmental Missions

  • Schools will be encouraged to review the foundations of student health as part of parent meetings with students who are struggling.
  • The district shall develop policies and procedures to connect nutrition, health education, and physical education efforts.
  • Schools will be encouraged to integrate food and nutrition issues and activities into the academic curriculum.
  • Nutrition lessons will be part of health education at every school level.
  • Cooking and garden clubs will be encouraged on middle and high school campuses. These activities may be offered as After School Programs.
  • Each campus or the District is encouraged to offer one nutrition and fitness event every year. This may include, but is not limited to, events like Family Night, Saturday School, Advisory Day, Assemblies or a Health Fair.
  • Newsletters that include the school menu and complementary nutrition and fitness information will go home with students monthly.
  • School cafeterias will display nutrition and fitness information on bulletin boards, table tents, posters or other marketing materials.

Increase Participation in School Nutrition Programs and Ensure that No Student Goes Hungry

  • All schools shall offer free breakfast to all students regardless of income.
  • The district and schools shall encourage maximum participation in meal programs. Cafeteria cashiers, teachers and other staff present in the cafeteria will remain aware to the extent possible of students who refuse food.
  • Teachers, staff and parents are encouraged to eat with students.
  • Nutrition Services will survey students at least twice per year to get feedback on food being served and to solicit suggestions.

Providing Opportunities for Public Input

Nutrition Services shall create a system for getting staff and parent feedback.

Physical Activity Opportunities and Physical Education

When children and adolescents participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, multiple health benefits accrue.

Regular physical activity builds healthy bones and muscles, improves muscular strength and endurance, reduces the risk for developing chronic disease risk factors, improves self-esteem, and reduces stress and anxiety. Beyond these known health effects, physical activity may also have beneficial influences on academic performance.

KAPS does not choose between having healthy or educated students. We believe that academic performance improves by advancing health and fitness opportunities. And at a time when budgets are a primary concern we continue to believe that devoting school resources in support of student health also supports academics.
KAPS elementary schools students and 5th graders will participate in a minimum of 150 minutes per week in the form of a Physical Education class or structured recess.  KAPS 6th through 8th graders must complete 30 minutes of daily physical activity for a minimum of 4 semesters.  KAPS high school students are required to take two half credits (or 1 credit) of Physical Education.
All KAPS Physical Education classes in grades 3-12 will be assessed a minimum of two times per year according to Fitnessgram guidelines. We require that all parents be informed of student Fitnessgram results. The district encourages PE teachers to provide recommended improvement plans for students who are not in the Healthy Fitness Zone when informing parents of results.

All KAPS schools will offer a physical activity component to Saturday Schools (this may include structured recess for elementary schools). To reinforce that fitness is a lifestyle and that it can connect a person to his or her community, the district encourages all PE teachers to participate in at least one community run or fitness activity each school year.

Physical Education/Activity Policies

The district requires that no student be pulled from PE classes or structured recess (or those that count toward their PE credit) for tutoring, counseling services or other administrative reasons if the school offers the state minimum of 135 minutes of PE.

In order to establish a positive relationship with fitness for students it is strictly prohibited for any teacher, staff member, volunteer or community partner to use any form of physical activity as a form of punishment. Additionally, it is strictly prohibited to withhold physical activity, including recess, for any student as a form of punishment.

Because student safety is a priority during physical activity, if any PE class has more than 45 students per one teacher, an additional teacher’s aide must be present.

Physical Fitness Program Requirements

KAPS strongly supports a monitored health and physical education program for all students as part of a balanced educational experience that meets state standards and requirements.

Fitness Requirements for Elementary Grades:
Senate Bill 530 requires students enrolled in Kindergarten through fifth grade to participate in moderate or vigorous daily physical activity for at least 30 minutes throughout the school year as part of the district's physical education curriculum or through structured activity during a campus's daily recess.

The Texas Education Code (TEC) §38.101 states that a school district must annually assess the physical fitness of students enrolled in grade three or higher in a course that satisfies the curriculum requirements for physical education under TEC §28.002 (a)(2)(C).

KAPS utilizes the FitnessGram assessment to comply with State requirements, as well as to promote regular physical activity among all of our students. FitnessGram is a health-related fitness assessment developed by The Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research. It assesses aerobic capacity, muscle strength, endurance, flexibility, and body composition.

Parents may request a copy of your child’s physical fitness assessment by submitting a letter to your principal at the end of the school year. KAPS believes by providing you and your child with this health-related fitness information, you can lead your child toward a healthy lifestyle. A healthy student is better prepared to learn and perform in all aspects of life.

Measurement of Implementation of the Wellness Policy

  • Directly affected departments will receive a checklist each spring of requirements and suggestions for the implementation of the Wellness Policy, along with a copy of the Wellness Policy and any updates. This will be used as a planning and auditing tool for school and regional leaders.
  • The School Health Advisory Council will review the Wellness Plan annually and make recommendations for changes to the board of trustees.


All KIPP Austin Public Schools (KAPS) students either current, enrolling, or transferring must provide evidence of required immunizations by the first date of attendance. The Texas Department of Health has ruled that students must be current with immunizations in order to attend school unless an exemption has been filed with the school in accordance with Texas Education Code, Health and Safety, Chapter 38.0001. For a list of required student immunizations (in English and Spanish) by grade click here.

For a list of immunization locations, click here.

Immunization Exemptions:

The law allows (a) physicians to write a statement stating that the vaccine(s) required is medically contraindicated or poses a significant risk to the health and well-being of the child or any member of the child's household, and (b) parents/guardians to choose an exemption from immunization requirements for reasons of conscience, including a religious belief.

Instructions for the affidavit to be signed by parents/guardians choosing the exemption for reasons of conscience, including a religious belief can be found here. To request an exemption online, click here. For children needing medical exemptions, a written statement by the physician should be submitted to the school.

ImmTrac Overview:

ImmTrac, the Texas Immunization registry, is a free service offered by the Department of State Health Services (DSHS).  ImmTrac is a secure and confidential registry available to all Texans.  ImmTrac safely consolidates and stores immunization information electronically in one centralized system.  Texas law requires written consent for ImmTrac participation and limits access to the Registry to only those individuals who have been authorized by law.  ImmTrac contains several million immunization records and continues to rapidly grow with increase participation.

The valuable information comes from a variety of sources including private health-care providers; public health clinics; Medicaid claims administrators, the Bureau of Vital Statistics (VSU), and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) clinics.  Regardless of the number of sources, each client’s immunization information is consolidated into one electronic record.  Authorized professionals such as doctors, nurses, and public health providers can access confidential data including client’s vaccination histories.

The registry is a major component of the DSHS initiative to increase vaccine coverage across Texas.

Anti-Bullying Policy

KIPP Austin is committed to protecting its students, employees, and applicants for admission from bullying, harassment, or discrimination for any reason and of any type. KIPP Austin and its Board believe that all students and employees are entitled to a safe, equitable, and harassment-free school experience. The KIPP Austin Anti-Bullying policy outlines expectations, beliefs and standards related to promoting healthy relationships and academic climates, with a specific focus on preventing and respoding to acts of intimidation, violence and other similar disruptive behavior.

Alcohol, Drug and Tobacco ban

KAPS prohibits alcohol, drug, or tobacco use (including e-cigarettes) or possession at any owned or leased KAPS property in compliance with Sec. 38.006 and Sec. 38.007 of the school code.

Helpful Resources