March 21—As a statement of solidarity in serving healthy meals to students, the Urban School Food Alliance (USFA), which consists of some of the largest school districts in the country, served the same lunch menu to more than 2.9 million students March 20.
The six school districts, New York City Department of Education, Los Angeles Unified School District, Chicago Public Schools, Dallas Independent School District, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Orange County (Fla.) Public Schools, officially formed USFA earlier this year to use their purchasing power to continue to improve food quality for students while driving down costs.
The lunch menu featured roasted chicken, brown rice with seasoned black or red beans, steamed green broccoli, fresh seasonal fruit and milk.
"This show of solidarity is unprecedented," Los Angeles Unified School District Food Services Director David Binkle said in a press release. "It demonstrates that all the school districts in the alliance can work together to implement the same programs while serving nutritious meals to our students."
The Urban School Food Alliance first met in Denver in 2012 and has since kept in communication regularly via telephone. The foodservice directors from each of the school districts share and review menu items to ensure that they provide access to meals that meet the USDA's nutrient recommendations. In addition to creating a purchasing powerhouse, the coalition is working to be more ecologically friendly in their respective districts. As a whole, the alliance procures more than $530 million in food and food supplies annually.