School meal purchasing power

by Erica Shaffer
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A partnership of childhood nutrition organizations aims to give school districts greater access to high-quality foods for students.

NEW YORK – Two organizations committed to improving the quality and nutrition of meals served to school children announced a new partnership. The non-profit Urban School Food Alliance (USFA), a coalition of the largest school districts in the United States, has joined forces with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which was founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation.

The organizations say the partnership will give 30 million students in more than 5,000 school districts better access to high-quality foods and other products at more competitive prices.

“This partnership will create a market-driven, progressive change in school meals,” said Eric Goldstein, USFA chairman and CEO of School Support Services for the New York City Dept. of Education. “We’re excited to collaborate with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation to create meaningful improvement on how food and food supplies are procured for the health and wellness of students and the environment.”

Specifically, USFA and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation plan to:

• Challenge manufacturers to formulate food that ensures students receive nutritious and delicious meals, meeting, and even exceeding, US Dept. of Agriculture guidelines.

• Challenge vendors to schools to create new food-related supplies that incorporate green practices that strengthen the health and wellness of students and preserve our environment.

• Work with vendors, farmers and related organizations to join the effort and increase local procurement of fresh quality food and supplies, while reducing our carbon footprint.

• Create easy-to-use procurement tools and resources to allow districts engaged with the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program to access this unprecedented purchasing power.

• Develop training and mentoring programs that will allow the USFA to share its best practices with all the Alliance's Healthy Schools Program districts.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program is a leading school-based childhood obesity prevention initiative that helps schools meet voluntary school nutrition standards. The USFA includes New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami-Dade, Dallas and Orange County Florida public school districts. The coalition has used its $500 million in purchasing power to drive change to school meal programs in its member districts.

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