NEW YORK, Feb. 4, 2021 – The Urban School Food Alliance (USFA), a coalition of the largest school districts in the United States that includes New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and Dallas, is pleased to announce that it will expand its membership to 15 districts with the addition of Portland Public Schools, Seattle Public Schools, and Austin Independent School District. These new members expand USFA’s collective student reach to more than 3.8 million children nationwide and the group’s total annual purchasing power to more than $825 million in food and food supplies.
“Our new members represent some of the finest and most influential school food service programs in the country, and we look forward to their contributions to USFA’s ongoing success,” said Michael Rosenberger, chairman of USFA and executive director of Food and Child Nutrition Services for Dallas Independent School District. “They expand our geographical footprint into the Pacific Northwest, and strengthen our membership in Texas. These three districts will increase our organizational effectiveness in our core USFA competencies of best practice sharing, advocacy, and procurement.”
A nonprofit group, members of USFA are changing school food systems by sharing best practices, leveraging their collective purchasing power to drive school food quality up through socially responsible practices, and advocating for policy changes that improve access to meals for all children. Its impacts include helping school districts adopt an antibiotic-free standard for poultry, even before many of the nation’s leading restaurants called for healthier poultry on their menus, and removing 225 million polystyrene trays from landfills every year by implementing compostable round plates in school cafeterias.
“We’re proud to join USFA because it’s a mission that everyone in service to students should embrace,” said Aaron Smith, Nutrition Services Director, Seattle Public Schools. “I’m looking forward to learning from the other USFA members’ experiences and best practices, and sharing what our great team in Seattle does day in and day out as we serve our students.”
“We are honored to join USFA. In Austin ISD, we are committed to redefining the student dining experience while positively impacting the food system,” said Christine Steenport, Director of Operations. “We look forward to collaborating with USFA partners to further our mission and collectively bring better food to students across the country.”
Portland Public Schools and Seattle Public Schools represent the largest school districts by enrollment in Oregon and Washington, respectively, and Austin Independent School District is currently the fifth largest district in Texas. Together, the three districts serve approximately 180,000 students, more than 85,000 of whom qualify for free or reduced price lunches.
“Portland Public Schools has historically been a proactive and progressive district and our nutrition services team has remained focused on getting fresh and healthy meals to our students,” said Whitney Ellerick, Senior Director of Nutrition Services. “We look forward to continuing our efforts as members of USFA to better serve our students.”