The Urban School Alliance Is Changing School Meals
By: Natasha Naik
“United, we stand; divided, we fall,” these wise words still ring true today. There are strength in numbers, and the Urban School Food Alliance is a present day example.
Six of the largest school districts in the country, New York, Miami-Dade, Orange County, Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles, came together in 2012 and have been working since then to provide the 2.9 million children in their combined districts with healthier food at school. Their mission of this nonprofit organization is to get licensed nutritionists working hand in hand with school districts and government programs to get the healthiest possible lunches for their children.
The three goals of the USFA are 1) to invest in farm economies by increasing the USDA food dollars spent on school meals (this will help get kids more locally sourced fruits and veggies for breakfast and lunch. 2) Expand non-congregate feeding opportunities, and 3) to provide meals to children through ‘free meals for all’ services.
Its plain to see, the USFA has its hands full with these ambitious goals. Over the years, they have seen remarkable success. Already, all the schools in the alliance have switched from harmful foam trays to environmentally and kid friendly compostable trays. This alone is a huge step as together the alliance provides meals to 4,500 schools and almost three million students, daily. With just these six school districts switching to compostable trays, the amount of foam ending up in landfills has greatly decreased.
It doesn’t stop there, the Alliance, which was founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation, which works to reduce childhood obesity, also works to get healthier food on these new, biodegradable trays. They work towards finding ways to compensate for the higher pries of healthier food and ways around cost objections.
The Urban School Food Alliance is still young but has already made great strides in the American school system, the future only has more in store.