Since our inception in 2012, members of the Urban School Food Alliance have delivered on our mission to provide access to delicious, nutritious, high-quality meals to the 3.3 million students we serve. School meals provide the most consistent source of daily nutrition for these young people (no matter their financial situation at home) so that they can do well in school. We are proud of our quality meals and we are thankful to the thousands of lunchroom personnel who work day in and day out in service of our students.
That’s why it is with great disappointment to watch a video that sweetgreen Co-Founder Nicolas Jammet produced. It generalizes that school meals are unappealing, unhealthy and are not “real food.”
These general claims provide misinformation that further the negative stereotypes we’ve been trying to set straight with our practices. Our 10 Alliance districts spend nearly $100 million a year on locally sourced foods alone. We work closely with farmers to serve the freshest foods possible to our students, while stimulating the local economy. We were the first school districts in the country in 2014 to adopt a standard for antibiotic-free chicken in our schools – long before national restaurant chains joined in this effort. More importantly, we stayed the course in serving meals lower in sugar and sodium while increasing whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables despite the flexibilities allowed.
The Urban School Food Alliance districts and our staff pride ourselves in the work that we do for the health and wellness of our students. Making general statements and spreading misinformation about school meals only hurt the daily exemplary efforts of school food providers not only in Alliances districts, but districts across the country as well. We invite Mr. Jammet and sweetgreen staff to visit our schools to see for themselves a true picture of school meals in today’s lunchrooms.