School meals are an essential source of nutritious food for many children, particularly low-income children, across the nation, whether schools are providing in-person, distance or hybrid education during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many districts are experiencing decreased participation in school meal programs. In an effort to support school districts in increasing school meal participation – and thus improve children's food security during the pandemic – the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI) partnered with Stanford Medicine Department of Pediatrics and the School Nutrition Association to develop a fact sheet for school districts. Titled "Boosting School Meal Participation - Tips from Districts", it provides a checklist of strategies for school meal pick-ups, ways to offer more meals, keeping meals appealing, communication to families, and ideas for community partnerships. The fact sheet includes an update on nationwide waivers issued by the United States Department of Agriculture that provide flexibilities to school nutrition services during the pandemic. It also highlights resources from collaborating organizations including recipes and menu-planning, back-to-school and reopening planning, virtual nutrition education, and more. The fact sheet is available for download online. The authors of and contributors to the fact sheet, including NPI's Christina Hecht, are members of the ad hoc COVID-19 School Nutrition Implications Working Group, jointly supported by Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network (NOPREN). This project was funded by the San Joaquin Valley Health Fund COVID-19 Response Cluster, managed by The Center at Sierra Health Foundation.
Fact sheet on boosting school meal participation released by NPI, Stanford Pediatrics and School Nutrition Association
Nov 4, 2020