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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:

NATIONAL NUTRITION MONTH MARCH 2024
AND NATIONAL SCHOOL BREAKFAST WEEK
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 https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/is/i_&_c/pdfs/CFM-CertifiedProducersByCounty-2022.pdf.

For toolkits and more NNM® celebration ideas, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics NNM® web page at https://www.eatright.org/national-nutrition-month. For more about NSBW, visit the School Nutrition Association web page at https://schoolnutrition.org/about-school-meals/national-school-breakfast-week/.

For questions on promoting NNM® and NSBW, please contact Desiree Rojo, Nutrition Education Assistant, by email at drojo@cde.ca.gov. For cafeteria fund questions, email SNPCafeFundQuestions@cde.ca.gov.


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.

Sincerely,

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

Last Reviewed: Friday, March 01, 2024
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