In 2020, the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) in the U.S. went through a ton of changes, some of which were because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools and food service directors faced significant financial challenges, were forced to change the foods on the menu and how they distributed meals to kids. In episode 2, we took a deep dive into these issues with Colin Schwartz from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. In this episode, I spoke with Brandy Dreibelbis, director of school food operations at the Chef Ann Foundation, about what schools and food service directors have to had to contend with through COVID-19 and the 2020-21 school year. We also talked about universal school meals and what we can expect from the Biden Administration.
1:51 How the USDA’s COVID-19 waivers and other flexibilities affected schools and food service directors.
4:16 What has the affect been on the nutrition of school meals?
6:44 What have schools had to contend with financially during COVID-19?
9:02 For kids who have school lunch delivered to the classroom, are they more likely to eat the meals?
10:04 Why were staffing cuts necessary and how has it affected schools?
13:18 How have the changes disproportionally affected underserved communities?
16:10 What are the differences between a self-operating and outsourced food service program?
18:16 What can parents do to advocate for scratch cooking in their district when it’s more expensive?
20:40 The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 made a lot of positive changes to school meals, but one of the criticisms was that kids weren’t necessarily eating the food. Can kids accept and love healthy foods they’re being served at school even if they’re not eating that way at home?
24:18 Congress introduced a bill to introduce universal school meals. Is it necessary and why?
26:11 What is the history and mission of the Chef Ann Foundation?
26:56 How can parents learn more and advocate for healthier school meals?
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