School lunches (and breakfasts) are lifesavers for some children, providing critical nourishment they might not have at home. But even for children who are food-secure, school lunches can help support their education, as well-fed and active children have fewer absences, higher self-esteem, better behavior, and increased academic performance. The Chef Ann Foundation, a non-profit that works with schools across the country to provide fresh, healthy, delicious, cook from scratch meals at school, has created a parent toolkit to help families advocate for better school meals.
The toolkit breaks down the advocacy process into three steps for families:
- Get Educated: Covering the basics of school meals, and providing case studies, models of school food change, academic research, and media resources to help families understand the issue.
- Get Organized: Covering how to form an advocacy group that brings together all stakeholders to start a discussion on school food in your district.
- Take Action: Providing a variety of options your school food advocacy can use, from grants, to curriculum and in-school activity kits and guides, to farm-to-school initiatives and school gardens.
The Chef Ann Foundation also provides tools families can use at home to improve meals and support better nutrition. The foundation has also created The Lunch Box, a program aimed at school districts on how to implement better school meals in their buildings. Finally, the foundation has collected resources focused on school nutrition during the COVID-19 pandemic for schools, parents, and children.
The pandemic has highlighted many issues throughout our society where there Is much room for improvement. Advocacy can be a way for PTAs to demonstrate their value to their school communities and a way to energize their members during a time when traditional in-person events may not be possible. By shifting to advocacy, your PTA can build its membership by providing a way for families to support their children and their school. Check out the Chef Ann Foundation advocacy toolkit for one issue that may resonate with your families.