Kids thrive when their physical, cognitive and social-emotional development is nurtured. By creating more healthy choices, the Y’s Healthy Eating Physical Activity (HEPA) Standards lay the foundation for a positive youth development journey

photo credit: Brent Wallace

Based, in part, on years of research with key partners, the HEPA Standards will build a healthier future for our nation’s children by creating environments that promote healthy eating and physical activity.You can review this snapshot of HEPA Standards or download a PDF version here. For updated information take a look at our Winter HEPA News!


Role Modeling
Y staff will model healthy eating and active living.

Family Engagement
Engage parents/caregivers using informational materials and/or activities focused on healthy eating and physical activity a minimum of once a quarter.

Physical Activity

Ensure that children engage in at least 30 minutes of physical activity for half-day programs and 60 minutes for full-day programs, including a mix of moderate and vigorous physical activities that promote bone and muscle strengthening. Play will take place daily outdoors whenever possible.

Screen Time
Eliminate screen time for children under two years of age. For children over two, screen time is limited to less than 30 minutes per day for children in half-day programs and less than one hour per day for those in full-day programs.


Serve fruits or vegetables at every meal and snack. Children serve themselves (family-style). No partially hydrogenated oils (trans fat), fried or pre-fried foods. Serve whole grains when grains are served. Serve foods free of sugar as one of the first three ingredients or less than eight grams of added sugar.


photo credit: Mark Wiemers
Offer water at the table during every meal and accessible at all times. Serve only water and plain, low-fat (one percent) or non-fat milk.

Infant Feeding
Adults who work with infants and their families should promote and support exclusive breastfeeding for six months and the continuation of breastfeeding in conjunction with complementary foods for one year or more.