New Cross-Sector Initiative Aims To Build Healthier, More Sustainable School Meals
BOSTON, June 5, 2019 - Nearly 100 innovative leaders from the fields of school nutrition, the food industry, philanthropy, and the nonprofit sector, including over 20 representatives from school districts across the country today joined forces to officially launch reWorking Lunch, a new cross-sector initiative aimed at making healthier meals the norm for the 30 million kids who rely on school meals, often for the majority of their calories, every day.
reWorking Lunch is led by FoodCorps and Bain Double Capital Impact, with facilitation support from Forum for the Future. Anchor Partners and advisors include Arabella Advisors, Boston Public Schools, Campbell Soup Company, Fairfax County Public Schools, the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Minneapolis Public Schools, the Rachael Ray Foundation, Revolution Foods, Share Our Strength, sweetgreen, the Urban School Food Alliance, and the Walmart Foundation.
"Our nation's school meal program is an opportunity to solve some of the most critical challenges our society faces today," said Deval Patrick, former Governor of Massachusetts and Managing Director of Bain Capital Double Impact. "By working together across sectors, we have an opportunity to bring school food into the modern age, and make it an engine for the health of our kids and the wealth of our communities."
The reWorking Lunch partners' shared goal is to leverage the collective power of school meal programs ––an $18 billion industry serving meals in every community across America–– to build a future in which kids have access to healthier, more sustainable food at school. This multi-sector team will collaborate and create solutions that lay the groundwork for collective action and change at scale. Today's launch kicks off with a two-day summit of strategy workshops that unite innovative leaders in school nutrition, the food industry, philanthropy, the nonprofit sector, and government in designing solutions to common challenges.
"School food is changing," said Laura Benavidez, Executive Director of Food and Nutrition at Boston Public Schools. "In Boston, we're improving food offerings across our district, introducing scratch cooking, and giving students more choices. Through reWorking Lunch, we can work with partners across the country to accelerate our progress, and break through the barriers that are holding other districts back."
Following the launch event, participants will then join working groups dedicated to actualizing ideas that were generated at the launch event and piloting solutions in partnership with schools across the country. Participants will reconvene at the one-year mark to celebrate successes, make adjustments based on learnings from pilots, and plan next steps for continued change in the school food system.
"We're ready to take what we've learned and know about technology, flavor, and freshness and see how it might help schools offer healthier, more sustainable food to students," said Nathaniel Ru, co-founder of sweetgreen. "Every partner at the table is coming into reWorking Lunch with something important to contribute."
"By addressing the fragmentation in the school food system through reWorking Lunch, we are creating solutions that make it easier for school nutrition leaders to source and serve high-quality, fresh, healthy food every day, so that our nation's most vulnerable students–the majority of which are children of color–are set up to thrive in academics, their careers, and their lives. This is not just about food–it's about ensuring that the kids most affected by the issues in the systems that adults created can succeed," said Cecily Upton, Chief Strategist, Senior Vice President, and Co-founder at FoodCorps.
School Food Facts
In America, one in five children struggle with hunger, and one in three are on track to develop diabetes in their lifetime. For children of color, it's one in two. Children who suffer from diet-related diseases score lower on tests, miss more days of school, and advance less in their careers. The school food system represents an $18 billion industry–serving 30 million students across 21,000 school districts, in every community across America.
Our public schools are America's largest restaurant chain, yet enjoy none of the efficiencies of a high-functioning franchise. The school food system is affected by a demanding regulatory environment, a fragmented supply chain, a narrow federal reimbursement rate, outdated kitchen infrastructure, and highly-restricted communication channels, which makes it challenging for school nutrition leaders to source and serve high-quality food.
For more information, visit https://reworkinglunch.org.
About reWorking Lunch
reWorking Lunch brings together senior leaders and decision-makers across the food system to collaborate across sectors, design solutions that lay the groundwork for change at scale, and take collective action to leverage the $18B our country spends on school meal programs annually towards better health outcomes for kids. Our goal is a future where healthier, more sustainable food is abundant and easily accessible for our nation's kids at school.
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, fall in love with it, 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.