How School Meals Can Advance the New Administration’s Priorities to Strengthen Communities’ Health and Wellbeing

By Mamiko Vuillemin and Krystal Oriadha for Agri-Pulse

In his first 100 days in office, President-elect Joe Biden will have a lot on his plate. Mr. Biden has put forward ambitious plans to restart the economy, address income inequality, advance racial equity, protect the environment, fight climate change, and strengthen rural communities, to name a few. School meals, an often-overlooked component of our education system, has the potential to drive each of the new administration’s goals at a national scale. After all, 30 million children receive school food each day.

As the Biden administration, including U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary nominee Tom Vilsack, and the new Congress set their policy priorities, providing free school meals for all kids and delivering much-needed resources to school nutrition departments need to be a top priority. It is important to note that Mr. Vilsack carries a history of advancing federal nutrition programs from both an access and a meal quality lens, particularly during his tenure as USDA secretary during the Obama Administration.

Taking swift action in these areas would reduce rapidly increasing childhood hunger, stimulate local economic activity, support climate resilience, and strengthen the health and wellbeing of our communities.