FoodCorps Celebrates as Senators Booker, Cornyn Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Expand School Nutrition Education
The legislation would help establish food educators in more schools nationwide to provide hands-on learning for students
WASHINGTON, DC—Today U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced a bipartisan bill that would fund food education programs in schools, ensuring access for more children and communities. Through the establishment of a pilot program, the Food and Nutrition Education in Schools Act, originally introduced in 2020, will allocate federal funding for food and nutrition education positions in urban, rural, and Indigenous schools. Food educators teach students about healthy food, helping them eat more of the nutritious meals they are offered in school cafeterias and setting them up to make healthy choices for life. This effort prioritizes schools in which at least 40 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-priced meals, and where students often receive less than five hours of nutrition education per year.
Food and nutrition educators play a critical role in schools by teaching kids where their food comes from, how it grows in school gardens, how to prepare it, and why it’s fun to try fruits and vegetables. Food educators such as FoodCorps service members make a direct impact in schools by delivering evidence-based lessons that get kids eating healthy and support their social-emotional learning.
The COVID-19 pandemic illustrated pervasive racial inequity and rising food insecurity across the nation. The Food and Nutrition in Schools Act’s introduction comes during an important time for food in schools, which continues to serve as a vital safety net for families. The legislation will serve to increase food’s role in classrooms, and reduce barriers in access to food and nutrition education, particularly in underserved communities. FoodCorps applauds Senators Booker and Cornyn’s leadership on this bill, which makes the direct connection that hands-on learning can better prepare students for educational success and ensure well-being in the classroom and beyond.
“As Ron Finley, an inspiring Black leader and urban farmer in South Central Los Angeles once said, ‘South Central…[is] home of the drive-thru and the drive-by. Funny thing is, the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys.’ Countless studies have demonstrated that a lack of access to nutritious food – particularly in underserved communities – manifests itself in all areas of human development, from increased rates of diet-related diseases to reduced academic performance,” said Senator Booker. “We must do more to ensure our kids have consistent and equitable access to healthy foods, along with the education that will help them make healthy diet choices throughout their lives. By prioritizing communities disproportionately impacted by food insecurity and diet-related illnesses, this bipartisan legislation would bring equitable access to food and nutrition education to children across the country.”
“By educating our youngest Texans to choose nutritious food options, we can set them up for good health and a future free of the many diseases linked to poor diet,” said Senator Cornyn. “This bill would provide resources for programs that teach kids in Texas how to make choices that will keep them healthy and reduce the taxpayer burden of obesity-related disease.”
“As we’ve seen demonstrated over the past year, schools are vital for kids’ growth in so many ways: through social and academic development, emotional health, and for many kids, as a source of food,” said Mamiko Vuillemin, Sr. Manager of Policy and Advocacy, FoodCorps. “Through our ten years of experience in food education, we know that hands-on learning in classrooms and school gardens helps children build a healthier relationship with food and gives them agency and skills that can ensure their health and well-being into the future. For children who face health disparities fueled by systemic racism and classism, increased access to food and nutrition education will help them gain the opportunities and resources needed to thrive in the classroom and beyond. FoodCorps commends Senators Booker and Cornyn’s leadership, and we call on Congress to support this bipartisan bill that will help kids have more access to food education.”
The Food and Nutrition Education in Schools Act is endorsed by over 150 organizations and schools.
Together with communities, FoodCorps connects kids to healthy food in school so that every child—regardless of race, place, or class—gets the nourishment they need to thrive. Our AmeriCorps leaders transform schools into places where all students learn what healthy food is, care where it comes from, and eat it every day. Building on this foundation of direct impact, FoodCorps develops leaders, forges networks, and pursues policy reforms that in time have the potential to improve all of our nation’s 100,000 schools. To learn more about FoodCorps’ work across the country, visit http://www.foodcorps.org.