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From the Lunchroom to the Legislature:A Chronicle of the Recent History of School Meal Programs in America

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Erik Peterson
(703) 739-3900, ext. 124

From the Lunchroom to the Legislature:
A Chronicle of the Recent History of School Meal Programs in America

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (July 21, 2008) – Sliced kiwi, turkey wrap on a whole-grain tortilla and a bottle of fat-free milk: school lunch has changed a lot in 20 years, and no organization knows this better than the School Nutrition Association (SNA).  Today, the nation’s leading authority on school nutrition released a new book detailing the recent history of the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program by recounting its own organizational challenges and triumphs.

A Measure of Excellence: The History of the School Nutrition Association, 1988-2008, chronicles the history of the Association from its move from Denver to the Washington, DC, area in 1988 to the present-day drive for uniform, national school nutrition standards.  The book offers a unique look at the one federal program nearly every American has participated in. Some of the historical highlights include:

  • Defeating the 1995 Congressional effort to eliminate the federal school nutrition programs.  In trying to reduce the size of government, the Contract with America plan included a provision that would eliminate the entitlement status of the federal school nutrition programs in favor of block grants to the states.  Association members fought a tough, difficult battle to defeat the provisions and maintain a national program that remains rooted in nutrition integrity. A legacy of that time, the struggle continues today to ensure that adequate funding is made at the local, state and federal levels in order to allow districts to offer healthy school meals.
  • Rebranding the Association with a new name.  In 2004, the American School Food Service Association became the School Nutrition Association.  The name change reflected the growing professionalism of Association members and the emphasis on providing well-balanced, nutritious meals to over 30 million children every school day.
  • Expanding the mission of school nutrition beyond U.S. borders. In 1997, the Association began hosting an annual forum for child nutrition officials working in different nations to share and learn new strategies for creating self-sustaining programs in their countries.  In 2006, the Global Child Nutrition Forum became the premier event held by SNA’s newly established Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF). 
  • Creating nutrition standards and developing school wellness programs.  During much of the past 20 years, the Association continually has sought to improve the quality of school nutrition programs. Among its efforts, SNA was a driving force in the addition of a provision to the 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act mandating that school districts create local school wellness policies.  In 2008, the Association released a set of model school nutrition standards, ensuring that quality meals for students would be based on the latest nutrition science.

“During the last 20 years, the Association has met (many) challenges… with an unwavering commitment to excellence,” write SNA past presidents Karen Johnson, SNS and Donna Wittrock, SNS, in the book’s introduction. “We have recorded these events here to help future leaders build on these achievements. And we hope that, in doing so, we help to preserve the rich history and legacy of our Association.” The book is available for purchase online through the Association website at 

The School Nutrition Association (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.  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.


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