FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2021
FoodCorps Applauds Reps. Plaskett, Hayes, and Adams For Introducing Legislation to Expand School Nutrition Education
The legislation will establish food educators in more schools nationwide to provide hands-on learning for students
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today U.S. Representatives Stacey Plaskett (D-VI), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), and Alma Adams (D-NC) introduced the Food and Nutrition Education in Schools Act of 2021, a bill that would fund food education programs in schools, ensuring access for more children and communities. Reps. Plaskett, Hayes, and Adams were joined by Representatives Joe Courtney (D-CT), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Kweisi Mfume (D-MD), and Frank Mrvan (D-IN) as co-sponsors. The bill establishes a pilot program which will allocate federal funding for food and nutrition education positions in urban, rural, and Indigenous schools. Last month, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced a companion bill in the Senate.
Food educators are an integral part of daily education, by teaching students about healthy food, connecting them to the nutritious meals served each day in their school cafeterias, and setting them up to make healthy choices for life. This legislation will prioritize schools that currently have 40 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced-priced meals, and where students often receive less than five hours of nutrition education per year. The bill was partially inspired by FoodCorps’ ten years of experience in on-the ground food education. The Food and Nutrition Education in Schools Act is endorsed by over 150 organizations and schools.
Food educators, including FoodCorps service members, make a direct and lasting impact in schools by teaching evidence-based lessons that support healthy eating habits for kids and deliver critical social-emotional learning skills. Food and nutrition educators play an important role in schools by teaching kids where their food comes from, how it grows in school gardens, how to prepare it, and why it’s fun to try fruits and vegetables.
The COVID-19 pandemic uncovered the widespread racial inequity and rising food insecurity that has plagued the nation. The Food and Nutrition Education in Schools Act’s introduction is critical for schools, which continue to fill the necessary role as a safety net for families. The measure will serve to increase food’s role in classrooms, and reduce barriers in access to food and nutrition education, particularly in underserved communities.
“Healthy food is an essential building block for a full life. But right now, not all kids have access to healthy food or education about how to make healthy nutritional choices. Structural inequities based on race, place, and class have resulted in health disparities that have taken an unjust toll on children of color and children growing up in households struggling to make ends meet,” said Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI). “The overall goal of this legislation is to teach kids about the importance of nutrition, and to make sure kids know what healthy food is, and help them develop lifelong healthy eating habits.”
“Study after study has proven that food educators are the key to delivering critical hands-on learning in classrooms and school gardens to help students foster a healthy relationship with food, and provide them with the skills and agency to live healthy lives long into the future,” said Mamiko Vuillemin, Sr. Manager of Policy and Advocacy, FoodCorps. “With ten years of experience in food education, FoodCorps knows that these evidence-based lessons are vital for kids’ growth not only through the delivery of healthy meals and education about where food comes from, but by supporting social and academic development and emotional health. In a system that continues to fuel racism and classism, increased access to food and nutrition education will allow students to seek out new opportunities and resources that will enable them to be successful beyond the classroom. FoodCorps commends Reps. Plaskett, Hayes, and Adams’ leadership, and we call on Congress to support this bill.”
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, care where it comes from, 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.