Congratulations reader – you did it! You survived one of the most uncertain and chaotic school years in history. Students all across the country were able to receive nutritious meals year-round – because of you. Despite the food shortages, the changing of plans, and the tiring workdays, you continued to keep the bellies of American children full. You haven’t just made it to the end of one of the hardest years, you thrived and succeeded more than you ever thought you would be able to. Let’s take a look back at what you accomplished this school year.

You Thought Outside The Box

When schools first shut down in the 2019-2020 school year, districts everywhere scrambled to find a way to distribute meals to students. What we thought would be a 2-week nationwide shutdown, turned into a full year of confusing changes and mixed messages. As those two weeks turned into months, you thought of new ways to serve. You served meals in bulk, you delivered produce boxes, and you found ways to keep students engaged. When it was time to return for the 2020-2021 school year, you came up with new methods to serve in the cafeteria and in the classroom. Online ordering became a necessity instead of a nice-to-have. Because of your forward-thinking, students didn’t have to worry about how they would get their meals.

You Pushed For Extended Waivers

It’s not easy to ask a government entity to make changes or policy updates – yet as waivers were set to expire, you took a stand and asked for extensions. During LAC, many of you met with government officials and explained how important it was that students continue to eat for free. You recognized that many families were still struggling and that free meals were more important now than ever.

You Connected More With Your Communities and With Each Other

Prior to the start of the pandemic, it was challenging to let community members know how important school nutrition is. Now everyone across the country will remember what you did to keep students fed and forever stand by your side. Not only did you build a stronger connection to your community, but you also built a strong connection with one another. You shared your stories during webinars and shared tips & tricks within Facebook groups. Every member of this industry was there to support one another so that no one ever felt alone.

One of the biggest lessons we learned over the past year is that we don’t know what the future holds. We also learned that despite anything that life throws at us, we will be ready to handle it. Congratulations to all of you for making it through this school year. Thank you for all that you did and for all that you continue to do.