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Health and wellness

Green hexagon with symbols of fruits

The UFT is dedicated to working with schools to build healthier communities. In this day and age, with childhood obesity and other health issues on the rise, it is of the utmost importance that educators work closely with community groups to improve students’ health. To that end, along with our partners, we support a number of health and wellness programs in New York City schools.

Physical education and comprehensive health education are essential to the well-being of all students in every school. The New York City Department of Education Wellness Policy outlines the DOE’s approach to ensuring schools can provide students with physical and health education instruction, as well as environments and opportunities that allow all students to practice healthy behaviors throughout the school day.

Breakfast in the Classroom

Part of DOH efforts to address health disparities in high-need neighborhoods with high rates of childhood asthma and obesity, the program provides students in participating elementary schools with a free — and healthy — daily breakfast of juice or fruit, cereal, milk, a bread item such as a bagel, roll, or muffin, or a dairy item such as yogurt or cheese.


CookShop, the federally funded nutrition education program of the Food Bank For New York City, provides children, teens and adults with the knowledge and tools to adopt and enjoy a nutritious diet and active lifestyle on a limited budget.


Move-to-Improve is a free classroom-based physical activity program that helps elementary school teachers in district public schools enhance their lessons by integrating physical activity into academic instruction to get students moving. Activities are adaptable for different ages, academic levels, and physical abilities. Teachers must receive training to use Move-to-Improve with their students. Move-to-Improve All-Star schools have a comprehensive physical education (PE) program led by a certified or designated PE teacher, and at least 85% of elementary teachers trained in Move-to-Improve. Move-to-Improve All-Star schools may count up to 40 minutes of Move-to-Improve activities each week in order to supplement the New York State Elementary PE requirement.

School Wellness Councils

A School Wellness Council is a group of parents, students, school staff, and community members who work together and with the school administration to promote a healthy school community. The New York City Department of Education Wellness Policy encourages all schools to have a School Wellness Council, and teachers are essential to successful councils. School Wellness Council members attend regular meetings at their school and help with:

  • Making sure the school community knows about and promotes the NYC DOE Wellness Policy
  • Making sure the school supports high-quality physical education and health education
  • Sponsoring or coordinating wellness programs and events to engage students and families (e.g., physical activity clubs, fitness events)
  • Creating healthy snack policies and practices
  • Promoting the importance of healthy food (e.g., school gardens)
  • Promoting inclusivity and diversity

Learn how to apply for a School Wellness Council grant at the start of each school year.

Contact Us

For more information on health and wellness programs in city schools, contact Lisa Lau at 212-598-7763 or by e-mail at