SNA Press Releases

SNA Announces Four New Districts of Excellence

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Erik Peterson
703-739-3900, ext. 124

School Nutrition Association Recognizes Local School Nutrition Operations

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (March 9, 2009) The School Nutrition Association and the School Nutrition Foundation announced that Alexandria City Public Schools in Alexandria, VA; St. Paul Public Schools in St. Paul, MN; Lee’s Summit R-7 School District in Lee’s Summit, MO; and Riverside Local School District in Painesville, OH have achieved the District of Excellence Distinction in School Nutrition designation by SNA through the fall 2008 application and peer review process.

The District of Excellence Distinction recognizes school districts that complete a thorough self-assessment in all four “key” areas in the Keys to Excellence program. The district’s excellence is then verified by a comprehensive application documenting knowledge and application of national best practices in nutrition and nutrition education, communications and marketing, administration, and operations. Given the funding and financial challenges currently facing school nutrition programs, those that are able to achieve this designation are expertly balancing a variety of competing priorities.

Keys to Excellence is a national best practice standards program that has been a core component of SNA’s professional development and training programs since 1992. It provides a way for school districts to compare their program to the industry’s gold standard while helping meet their goals to serve healthy, delicious food in a cost-effective way. 

“This designation from the School Nutrition Association is a great honor because it recognizes the dedication and excellence of local school food and nutrition operations and the tremendous effort they take to make school meals delicious, attractive, nutritious, and economical. These four school districts have successfully met the challenges of achieving a quality school nutrition program and we congratulate them on their achievement and commitment to excellence in school food and nutrition management,” said SNA President Katie Wilson, PhD, SNS.

As Keys to Excellence users click-through the web-based self-assessment, they rate their performance on national, objective best practice standards. Through the best practice standards and resource section, they are offered innovative, practical tools and ideas to create nutritious, attractive meals, and run the school food and nutrition program operations effectively through sound business practices and financial management.  After completing the Keys, directors can compare their programs to districts nationwide on several demographic parameters. 

Additionally, the Keys to Excellence provide school food and nutrition directors with ideas to help promote excellence in foodservice throughout the school community.  Some directors have developed evening nutrition education and healthful cooking classes for parents to promote healthy eating habits for children outside of the school day as well.  Others have collaborated with physical education teachers on programs that promote activity and healthy eating. The Keys to Excellence program offers guidance on involving the entire school in student nutrition education, for example, by using the cafeteria and lunch menu as learning tools.

In 2007, an expert committee completed a comprehensive review of the best practice standards for the District of Excellence Distinction in School Nutrition.  Districts submit a comprehensive application to a formal peer review panel. District of Excellence recipients may also apply for the prestigious District of the Year Award, including a grant of up to $25,000.  The District of Excellence and District of the Year programs are made possible through the School Nutrition Foundation with the support of the National Dairy Council.

To learn more about the District of Excellence program, please visit

SNA is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country.  The Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals.  Founded in 1946, SNA is the only association devoted exclusively to protecting and enhancing children’s health and well being through school meals and sound nutrition education.

The School Nutrition Foundation, established in 1964, is a non-profit corporation that provides high-quality professional development, financial aid and research programs to child nutrition professionals and members of the SNA.  The Foundation’s commitment to the child nutrition community is integral to implementing positive changes in school meals and, ultimately, to the health of school children.


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