Skip to main content
California Department of Education Logo
California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
February 22, 2024

Dear County Superintendents, District Superintendents, Chief Business Officials, and Food Service Directors:

MARCH 4-8, 2024

On behalf of the California Department of Education Nutrition Services Division (NSD), I would like to take this opportunity to commend school food service professionals, school leaders, and staff across the state for championing freshly-prepared, nutritious school meals. In the school year 2022–23 alone, over 870 million school meals and snacks were served. As the first state in the nation to implement Universal Meals and ensuring all students have access to a nutritious breakfast and lunch each school day at no cost to them through Universal Meals, we all know a strong school nutrition program includes access to quality meals. California has made historic investments in state meal reimbursement and grant funds to help schools raise the bar in their menu offerings. It is refreshing to see so many school food leaders and staff striving to go above and beyond to incorporate fresh, locally grown, minimally processed, scratch cooked, and even organic ingredients into their school meals so that every student has access to quality, delicious meals. These meals not only fuel students through their school day, but impact their future health as well. Now that we have successfully adapted to expanded meal service under Universal Meals, let us all celebrate our school food leaders and staff and the successes we have collectively achieved during National Nutrition Month® (NNM®) and National School Breakfast Week (NSBW).

The month of March is NNM®, and this year's theme is Beyond the Table, designed to spotlight all stages of the food system; including how food is grown, where it is grown, how it is processed, distributed, consumed, recovered, recycled, and disposed. The theme encourages all of us to consider the food system and the planet when making food choices. We know that school food professionals are continuously reexamining their menu offerings and this theme encourages the consideration of the food system and sustainability as those choices are made. The NSD encourages continued collaboration with the school community to develop sustainable approaches to meal service that are suitable to your teams and your service environment. The choices you make now and in the future years matter.

Also, during the month of March, NSBW is celebrated during the week of March 4–8, 2024. NSBW focuses on highlighting the importance of a nutritious school breakfast in fueling students for a successful school day and future. The 2024 theme for NSBW is Surf’s Up with School Breakfast. The theme encourages parents and guardians to have their children ride the wave of success by participating in school breakfast.

Below are some ideas to celebrate your school's meals and your dedicated food service professionals:

  • Decorate the cafeteria using the NNM® and the NSBW theme.

  • Share the NNM® Beyond the Table theme with teachers and staff and encourage the concept to be woven throughout lessons, activities, and meal service.

  • Recognize food service leaders who are meeting student demand for plant forward meals.

  • Create a March Gratitude Board and spotlight one food service professional each day in the month of March.

  • Introduce a new sustainable or local meal, food item, or side dish in March in honor of NNM®.

  • Post photos on social media using the hashtag #NationalNutritionMonth or #NSBW24.

  • Showcase your school’s food recovery program.

  • Try a new local fruit or vegetable by connecting with one new farmer or producer. Visit the California Department of Food and Agriculture for a list of local producers at

For toolkits and more NNM® celebration ideas, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics NNM® web page at For more about NSBW, visit the School Nutrition Association web page at

For questions on promoting NNM® and NSBW, please contact Desiree Rojo, Nutrition Education Assistant, by email at For cafeteria fund questions, email

Thank you for raising the bar and elevating the value of our school nutrition programs and we look forward to hearing about how you are celebrating NNM®·and NSBW.


Kim Frinzell, Division
Director Nutrition Services Division
California Department of Education

Last Reviewed: Friday, March 01, 2024
Related Content
  • California Culinary Centers Standardized Recipes
    A collection of standardized recipes and resources to support schools across California in creating menus to meet the National School Lunch Program meal pattern.
  • Child Nutrition Programs Resource Library
    A library of online resources for program operators participating in the Child Nutrition Programs.
  • Farm to School
    Information about California’s Farm to School for School Nutrition Program operators, including background, funding opportunities, best practices, trainings, resources, food safety, policy, compliance guidelines, and contact information.
  • Nutrition Education in California Schools
    Provides benefits of nutrition education, best practices, funding options, state and federal policy, resources, trainings, and contact information for Health and Nutrition Educators in California schools.
  • Plant-based Meal Options in CNPs
    Includes definitions, background, health benefit information, how to take action, resources, online trainings, and policy guidance for program operators participating in the Child Nutrition Programs and interested in offering plant-based meals.

Recently Posted in Nutrition

  • Rural Non-congregate Meals Listening Session (added 11-Apr-2024)
    The CDE will host a Listening Session on Tuesday, April 30 from 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm on the rural non-congregate meal service option for summer meal programs.
  • Summer Meals Turnip the Beet Award Winners 2023 (added 09-Apr-2024)
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the 2023 Turnip the Beet award winners on March 13, 2024.
  • 2022 KIT $15 Million Funding Award Available (added 09-Apr-2024)
    Announcement regarding the availability of the 2022 Kitchen Infrastructure and Training fund, $15 million residual award amounts, including information on the timing of payment, accounting information, and use of funds.
  • School Lunch Hero Day—May 3, 2024 (added 05-Apr-2024)
    The School Food Hero Day is May 3, 2024. This month is the perfect time to celebrate and recognize the role that food service professionals play in supporting student health, school meals, and learning.
  • S-EBT Notification for CALPADS Administrators (added 04-Apr-2024)
    CALPADS Flash #269 sent on March 19, 2024. This Flash provides information for CALPADS administrators about the process of collecting data for the upcoming 2024 Summer EBT Program (also known as SUNBucks).