reWorking Lunch

In 2018, school cafeterias served nearly 7.5 billion breakfasts and lunches, with over ¾ of those meals free or at a reduced price. That makes school food—an $18 billion industry—a system with great potential to nurture children’s health and wellness. Unfortunately, schools face persistent obstacles to providing the nourishing meals that foster whole-child development and ensure kids can show up at their desks well-nourished and ready to learn.

That’s why, in 2019, in partnership with Bain Capital Double Impact and Forum for the Future, FoodCorps convened leaders from the fields of school nutrition, the food industry, philanthropy, technology, and the nonprofit sector, with the goal of reorienting the school food system toward new goals by building deeper connection, understanding, interaction, and collaboration across efforts.

A Cross-Sector Initiative for Healthy School Meals

Together, FoodCorps and our incredible partners are working toward a vision for healthy food in school in which:

“All students–regardless of race, place, or class–enjoy quality food in school, free from stigma and barriers to access. The food is delicious, appealing, seasonally and culturally relevant, and made from whole, nourishing ingredients. It is sourced and served in ways that support local economies, protect lands and waters, treat animals humanely, and uphold the dignity and health of farmers, food workers, and students themselves.”

During the June 2019 event, attendees created and coalesced around four distinct work streams that launched in October 2019. We are grateful to these partners who lent their time and expertise to co-create the work streams as they were originally envisioned and are evolving today. As the realities of COVID-19 set in, we needed to pause work requiring deep time commitments from school nutrition leaders and accelerate other areas of work given the opportunities to build support from policymakers.

These areas of work will continue to guide FoodCorps’ actions, along with our partners, over the next several years. While each of the original work streams focuses on a different part of the school food system, they are also interconnected and designed to interact with one another.

  • Education: Improving the connection between the people who operate school meals and those who operate academic programs. Our team is re-launching a modified project to learn how to build a shared vision for school food among education and school nutrition leaders during this time of disruption.
  • Supply chains: Leveraging the power of our nation’s school districts to demand healthier school food products. We are exploring ways to build support for existing procurement initiatives in partnership with our state networks and school communities. 
  • Leadership: Building a pipeline to recruit and train the next generation of school nutrition leaders. Our team is working closely with our alumni and service members to elevate the school nutrition career path for the future given this unique school year.
  • Perception: Shifting the public narrative around what school food looks like today and what it might become and to elevate the message that school food is essential to students, whether they are physically in school or not. We are turning our energy in pursuit of bold policy priorities that enhance nourishing children and families during this unprecedented time.

Learn more about the initial design of the work streams here.

To do any of this important work, we need to leverage collective expertise, power, and hunger for change from stakeholders across the system. Interested in getting involved? We’d love to hear from you!

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Want to dive deeper? 

FoodCorps interviewed over 100 leaders from across the school food system to build a robust diagnosis of major opportunity areas for change, spanning production to consumption. The scale of the opportunity is huge.

Download the primer

  • Partners & Advisors

    It’s impossible to do this work alone. The Anchor Partner and Advisor team consists of a select group of leading industry, philanthropic, nonprofit, and school district partners and advisors that supported the design of the reWorking Lunch initiative and who will continue to provide thought leadership as we embark on these areas of work.

    Convening Partners

    Anchor Partners & Advisors

    • Boston Public Schools
    • Minneapolis Public Schools
    • The Rockefeller Foundation

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