School Food
is Essential

The people who prepare and serve school food are often the first to arrive at school and the last to leave. They work with tight budgets, do complex math, and perform back-breaking labor. These are the front-line workers who feed 30 million kids every day. With schools closed, they are turning toward the urgent need in front of them, but they've always been essential.

Eventually, schools will reopen. Our hope is that when they do, school food and the people behind it will be seen as a crucial part of kids' health, well-being, and academic performance. Food has an important role to play in creating a more equitable school system, as a means to nourish all kids in body, mind, and heart.

Today and every day, school food is essential.
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School Food Leaders Light the Way

“They aren’t here for the paycheck—they are here for the students. While the prep work can be monotonous, they love going to the distribution sites and seeing ‘their’ kids. They come back to the prep kitchen rejuvenated. We are tired, but so inspired. Just when I think it isn’t possible, every day, I fall more and more in love with my team.”

Keshia Williams, School Nutrition Director,
Coweta County Schools (Georgia)
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School Communities Work Together

“Our school, like every other school in the nation, was hit hard by COVID-19. We had to change directions on everything that we do. From day one, our administration knew without school breakfasts and lunches many of our students would go hungry. They decided Alternative Methods of Instruction packets and breakfasts/lunches would be delivered on our bus routes each day. Any child from age 0 to 18 can get a free lunch. We have been serving about 530 lunches every day. Many of our staff members ride the buses to help deliver. I am so proud of our school!”

Mrs. Jennifer Nolan, Secretary and Bus Driver, Cedarville Elementary School (Arkansas)
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FoodCorps AmeriCorps Service Members Support Schools

“With the promise to my students of taking care of our garden, I have been tending to our garden along with my incredible supervisor and with the support of our local partners. It's a small garden, but we are mighty! Last week we were able to harvest 40 heads of lettuce and donate them to a local organization. Despite all the obstacles that this pandemic has brought on, I fully believe that FoodCorps is the place where I was meant to be amidst all of this. I have an incredible team that has been able to support my vision of making sure that our garden can continue producing food for the community in these trying times.”

Genesis Caplan, FoodCorps AmeriCorps service member, Seaton Elementary School (Washington, D.C.)
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How FoodCorps is
Responding to COVID-19


Addressing the immediate needs of kids, schools, and communities

FoodCorps’ mission is to connect kids to healthy food in school. With schools closed across the nation, our scope of work is changing. Across all the states that we serve, FoodCorps AmeriCorps service members are:

  • Safely supporting meal distribution in partnership with schools
  • Teaching lessons remotely and creating learning videos for kids
  • Tending school and community gardens

Supporting FoodCorps service members

We’re taking steps to ensure our AmeriCorps service members are safe, healthy, and equipped to support their communities if they can. We’re providing additional emergency funding to service members who need it. And together we’re closely monitoring the guidelines from the CDC and our local government officials, and navigating how best to follow all safety precautions while we continue to show up for our school communities.


Advocating for federal and local action

While school and community members around the country are risking their health and safety to keep kids nourished, our federal and state governments are working to develop policy solutions that give child nutrition leaders the resources they need, and that help families weather this unprecedented public health and economic crisis.

How our nation responds now will shape the lives of a generation of kids and families. FoodCorps has a critical role to play, alongside partner organizations, schools, and communities, in influencing our nation’s approach to food in schools in this crisis—and as we rebuild. FoodCorps is using our platform to advocate for policy priorities that advance food access and education, from supporting relief packages to promoting flexibility for current school meal regulations—to make it easier, not harder, for schools to source and service healthy food in these unique circumstances and always.


Spotlighting school food as a solution

Despite sweeping improvements in the health and quality of school meals in recent years, stereotypes about school food persist. Outdated ideas about school food discourage student participation in meal programs and prevent policymakers and school administrators from investing in them. The COVID-19 crisis has thrust school meals into the spotlight, elevating the critical work of schools in feeding our kids now and every day. Alongside a coalition of school nutrition, industry, philanthropic, and nonprofit partners, we are working to harness this spotlight to uplift real stories about the innovation happening in school nutrition right now and every day. Through storytelling, about the value of school meals—deemed an essential service—during this crisis, we seek to reframe harmful narratives and directly contribute to more kids’ and families’ access to school meals.


Sharing resources for families, educators, and school nutrition professionals

FoodCorps’ top priority is the health and safety of the communities we serve—kids, families, schools, and the service members who support them. The public health crisis unfolding around COVID-19 has created an atmosphere of stress, uncertainty, and fear for all of us while simultaneously raising the flag for our communities to rally in support of one another. We have compiled dozens of resources to support educators, families, school nutrition professionals, and others who wish to respond to and support those impacted by COVID-19.

view resources
how you
can help

Tell Congress: school food is essential, and
school food workers are essential workers.


FoodCorps has compiled dozens of resources to support educators, families, school nutrition professionals, and others who wish to respond to and support those impacted by COVID-19.

  • National School Lunch Program: Participation and Lunches Served, March 08, 2019. Link to source
  • Gaddis, Jennifer. The Labor of Lunch. Oakland, University of California Press, 2019.
  • Florence, Michelle D.; Asbridge, Mark; Veugelers, Paul J. Diet Quality and Academic Performance. Journal of School Health, 2008. Link to source
  • Slawson, Deborah Leachman; Fitzgerald, Nurgul; Morgan, Kathleen T. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietics: The Role of Nutrition in Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietics, 2013. Link to source