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Active Summer for Urban School Food Alliance

Members Served as Panelists in FoodCorps’ ‘reWorking Lunch,’ United Fresh Produce Association Convention & School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference

NEW YORK, August 7 , 2019 – The Urban School Food Alliance (Alliance), a coalition of the largest school districts in the United States, served as food and nutrition experts at various conferences throughout the country.

In June, members of the Urban School Food Alliance met in Boston to participate in a two-day summit organized by FoodCorps for the launch of reWorking Lunch.  Joined by 100 other innovative leaders from the fields of school nutrition, the food industry, philanthropy and the nonprofit sector, the attendees worked together to build a future in which kids have access to healthier, more sustainable food at school. This multi-sector team collaborated and proposed solutions to lay the groundwork for collective action and change at scale.

“School food is changing,” said Laura Benavidez, executive director of Food and Nutrition at Boston Public Schools and Alliance member. “In Boston, we’re improving food offerings across our district, introducing scratch cooking, and giving students more choices. Through reWorking Lunch, we can work with partners across the country to accelerate our progress, and break through the barriers that are holding other districts back.”

In the same month, Alliance directors not only met in Chicago for its annual meeting, but members also participated in the United Fresh Convention and Expo.  Members connected with dozens of other school nutrition leaders from across the country, and Chairman Michael Rosenberger presented at the School Foodservice Forum on the importance of prioritizing fresh produce in school meals.

“We believe it’s important to serve the freshest and healthiest meals possible to our students,” said Rosenberger.  “By working with local farmers, we’re not only achieving this goal, but we’re also stimulating our communities’ economies by buying local.”

On June 26, Elizabeth Marchetta, executive director of Food & Nutrition Services at Baltimore City Schools served as one of the panelists in a Congressional briefing on Myths and Facts about School Meals: What’s Really for Lunch? in Washington, D.C.  The event dispelled myths about school meals and briefed members of Congress and staff about the importance of preserving the progress already made in school nutrition.

In July, the Urban School Food Alliance attended the School Nutrition Association Annual National Conference in St. Louis.  Members of the group co-led a number of workshops throughout the conference.

  • Innovative Menu Planning Resources and Training – Laura Benavidez (Boston Public Schools)
  • Procurement: The Big Differences About the Biggest Districts – Michael Rosenberger (Dallas Independent School District) and Manish Singh (Los Angeles Unified School District)
  • Labels Matter – Dr. Katie Wilson (Executive Director of the Urban School Food Alliance)
  • Building Participation and Employee Engagement – Lora Gilbert (Orange County Public Schools – Orlando)
  • Powered by Plants! The Future of Protein – Laura Benavidez (Boston Public Schools)

“I’m proud to be a part of a group of professionals who are so well respected in their field,” said Dr. Wilson. “Presenting alongside members of the Alliance in these conferences showcases the talents of the Alliance and how invaluable they are to the school food service community.”

About the Urban School Food Alliance

The Urban School Food Alliance was created by school food professionals in 2012 to address the unique needs of the nation’s largest school districts. The nonprofit group allows the districts to share best practices and leverage their purchasing power to continue to drive quality up and costs down while incorporating sound environmental practices.  New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Miami-Dade, Orange County (Orlando), Broward County (Fort Lauderdale), Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston together offer service to nearly 3.3 million children daily. This translates to more than 584 million meals a year.  The coalition aims to ensure that all public school students across the nation receive healthy, nutritious meals through socially responsible practices. To learn more about the Urban School Food Alliance or to support its work, please visit www.urbanschoolfoodalliance.org.

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