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10 biggest K-12 school meal stories of 2020

From Child Nutrition Reauthorization to the USDA’s flexibilities dealing with coronavirus and those school lunch ladies who acted as heroes to their communities, these are the most impactful stories of the year.

Many of the biggest stories of 2020 for child nutrition programs revolved around changes or proposed changes to the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program. The USDA, which runs these programs in school districts, made many changes to address the hardships these districts were facing in light of the coronavirus pandemic, which shut down schools. But millions of children rely on school meals, and child nutrition departments stepped up to serve those students in alternative methods, whether that be with curbside pickup, meal delivery, bus route drop-offs or working with local food banks.

In light of COVID-19 response by the USDA, it perhaps went a bit unnoticed that Child Nutrition Reauthorization went without renewal again this year. The last time it was renewed was in 2010—for perspective, it’s supposed to be reauthorized every five year. Pre-COVID (it’s hard to remember these times) the School Nutrition Association’s CEO Patti Montague, warned her group that they shouldn’t expect CNR this year given the election year and Congress being too busy to take on something like CNR. Those comments were made in mid-March, and one week later, many districts in the country shut down in-person learning, and thus, dining.

But child nutrition directors are used to making lemonade out of lemons, and some of the biggest stories of the year addressed the workarounds, innovation and positivity that came from this crafty bunch of school lunch ladies.

Here are the 10 biggest stories of the year.


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