This past February, I attended the Urban School Food Alliance winter meeting in Los Angeles, California, which included Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) sessions focused on child nutrition programs. Participants, which included food service directors from around the country, had the opportunity to ask questions about the child nutrition programs they administer, including the recent updates. Engaging with program leaders and seeing what child nutrition programs look like ‘on the ground’ is important to us. In addition to learning from the group, the meeting was a reminder of the many partners we have that share a common goal of continuing to elevate the role that healthy meals play in schools and for our children’s future.
We spent a day at the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) observing their warehouse and kitchen operations, and meeting with school officials. We also got a taste of the delicious meals LAUSD prepares for students. California was one of the first states to implement a statewide Universal Meals Program for all school children after the expiration of federal waivers during COVID, which allowed states to serve school meals at no cost to students. I commend the California state legislature and all state, county, and local anti-hunger advocates that helped to make this happen.
As I travel around the country and visit sites that administer FNS food assistance programs and meet nutrition security advocates that share this passion, I am awed by the tremendous amount of work, dedication, and pride exhibited every day so that children in our communities have healthy, nutritious meals.