Schools as Nutrition Hubs: Case Study 1

The March 2017 issue of School Nutrition includes a highly informative piece by Arianne Corbett, RD, entitled “Schools as Nutrition Hubs.” She advocates and provides illustrative evidence for the benefits of turning your school into a year-round hub where hungry students in your community can enjoy a healthy meal. This case study from Norfolk Public Schools in Virginia is proof that nutrition hubs are beneficial, successful, and provide improved access to meals for both children and adults.

Norfolk Public Schools operates as a Nutrition Hub for the small urban community of Norfolk, Virginia, which includes 32,000 students attending 52 different schools. Senior Director of School Nutrition Helen Phillips explains that she takes full advantage of the all the programs available: “In Norfolk, we administer six federal feeding programs. We have the school breakfast program, lunch program, after-school snack program, fresh fruit and vegetable program, summer food service program, as well as a childhood and adult care food program, which is also known as the supper program. So we believe that we have all the opportunities that we can!”

Prior to the addition of new feeding programs and revenue, declining enrollment left the nutrition department overstaffed, but they have since turned things around. Phillips goes on to say that she has “found that by administering these six programs, it helps us to keep our bottom line very healthy. The more students that we feed, whether it's breakfast, lunch, after school snack, supper, or summer… it increases our revenue, and of course expenses.” In addition, Phillips continues, “you will typically find that your revenue will increase enough to give you extra money so that you can buy equipment and other items that you need for your program.” She concludes that “it's good for the community and it's good for the business side of what we do as well.” So much so, in fact, that the district has added 12 positions to keep up with the dinner program alone.

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