California sets a healthy precedent with DASH program

by Tiereny Lloyd

Senate Bill-949 established California’s Distinguished After-School Health (DASH) program, a recognition program that encourages healthy foods, beverages, physical activity and limited screen time in afterschool programs. DASH, authored by State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D- Santa Barbara) and administered by the State Department of Education, was signed into law in 2014.

Since then, the state's Department of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction have been creating a DASH portal for both parents and programs. Parents searching for a healthy after-school program will be able to find a list of DASH-certified programs on the state’s website and DASH-certified programs will be able to display their certifications at program sites and on their website and materials.

Starting in March, providers of afterschool programs in the before-school, afterschool or summer learning program settings throughout the state can request certification. Applications will be accepted until April 8, 2016. Certificates will be valid for two years. To become certified, programs must show evidence of fulfilling the following requirements which are largely consistent with the NAA Healthy Eating and Physical Activity standards:

  • All staff are trained on standards related to the DASH program

  • Regular nutrition and health training is provided to attendees and parents

  • All staff and attendees are served drinking water

  • Attendees are served foods that meet DASH requirements

  • Attendees participate in 3-60 minutes of daily vigorous physical activity

  • Program attendee screen time is limited to comply with DASH requirements

  • Fundraising activities comply with DASH requirement


Since California serves over 1,500,000 children in afterschool programs, of which 450,000 are low income, the DASH program has the potential to positively impact a substantial number of children.  In addition, the DASH program is a great example of how public policy can play a role in promoting healthy childhood weight

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