This is an important and historic day for people like me – professionals committed to ensuring that school meals give students the proper nutrition needed to succeed in the classroom. In case you haven’t already heard, First Lady Michelle Obama formally unveiled the new USDA school lunch standards at a special ceremony earlier today in Virginia. This marks the first time these standards have been updated in more than 15 years.
As a champion of student well-being and a leader in the fight against childhood obesity, Sodexo supports the USDA’s new nutrition standards for school lunches because they mirror our own commitment to make students healthier. Not only do we deliver nutritious and delicious meals daily, but we also help educators succeed by creating healthy learning environments in schools that facilitate student achievement through our comprehensive focus on nutrition, environment, community and activity.
Sodexo has never been the kind of company to sit back and wait for change to come and that is certainly the case with these new school lunch standards. We’ve been proactively working for years to make school meals healthier and therefore, we won’t have to make drastic changes to meet the new standards.
An excellent example of our proactive work is a research and development summit we hosted in California last year. Sodexo brought together chefs from more than 20 national food manufacturers to work with our chefs in developing a diverse set of healthy, delicious and nutritious meals specifically tailored to students. Sodexo also challenged suppliers to make the foods kids like to eat healthier, a move that improves school nutrition not just at Sodexo-served schools, but for students nationwide.
Our mission and focus aligns closely with the goals of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, and we will be a driving force for implementing these standards nationwide, not only to the 2.8 million students we feed daily but also to the communities in which we serve. We have many more examples of how Sodexo combines our forward-thinking approach with our commitment to creating healthy learning environments to positively impact students, and I look forward to sharing them with you in the weeks ahead.
Steve Dunmore is the president of Sodexo Education – Schools.