SNA has been advancing the availability, quality and acceptance of school nutrition programs as an integral part of education since 1946. In celebration of SNA’s 75th anniversary in 2021, we are excited to share a new digital booklet, A Brilliant History of Serving Kids, which highlights just a sampling of the achievements and challenges experienced by SNA over the last three-quarters of a century. Named to reflect our diamond anniversary, the pages that follow sparkle with cherished memories, surprising facts, familiar faces and signature optimism.

In addition to this new digital booklet, SNA has compiled all of our 75th anniversary interviews with pioneering trailblazers, current champions and rising stars from the past year of School Nutrition into a commemorative companion piece, Reflections on a Brilliant History of Serving Kids.

Harry S. Truman signs the National School Lunch Act of 1946
Milestones 
1932Stockpiled agricultural surpluses (commodities) are supplied to some public schools.
1946President Harry Truman signs the National School Lunch Act, which establishes the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).
1946The Food Service Directors Conference and the National School Cafeteria Association voted to merge, becoming the School Food Service Association.
1947The first annual convention is held in Dallas. Attendance at the convention is 478, with 39 exhibitors.
1949This year saw the development of the Association’s first membership publication: School Meals. The newsletter (and later magazine) was one of the key member benefits during the 1950s—and remains so to this day.
1951State associations are encouraged to affiliate under the national umbrella of the American School Food Service Association.
1955The Association establishes its first national headquarters in Denver, CO
1962A joint resolution in Congress establishes an annual National School Lunch Week.
1964The School Food Service Foundation (now the School Nutrition Foundation) is established as a non-profit entity focusing on research and education.
1966The Child Nutrition Act of 1966 creates a 2-year breakfast pilot, establishes foodservice equipment assistance and increases funds to feed needy children.
1969The White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health leads to the expansion of child nutrition programs and the free and reduced-price school lunch program.
1973The first Legislative Action Conference is held to bring state leaders more directly into the lobbying process.
1975Congress permanently authorizes the School Breakfast Program.
1989The Association launches National School Breakfast Week to raise awareness of the importance of school breakfast.
1990The organization moves from Denver to Alexandria, VA
1993The Association works with the National Food Service Management Institute to develop nutrition integrity standards. These are used in the 1994 development of Keys to Excellence: Standards of Practice for Nutrition Integrity, a self-assessment tool designed to assist operators in improving their programs.
1995The Association leads successful fight against Congressional proposal for elimination of federal child nutrition programs in favor of block grants to states.
1996The Association celebrates its 50th Anniversary.
1998The Association launches the professional credentialing program. The designation is updated to School Nutrition Specialist (SNS) in 2004.
2004The American School Food Service Association makes a “healthy change,” approving a new name: The School Nutrition Association.
2004The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 mandates local school wellness policies involving communities in establishing healthy school environments.
2009The organization relocates to new offices in National Harbor, MD.
2011The Community Eligibility Provision pilot allows high-poverty schools to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students without collecting applications. CEP becomes available nationwide in 2014.
2014Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards are implemented, establishing nutrition standards for foods sold a la carte or in vending machines and snack bars.
2015Professional Standards for school nutrition professionals take effect, mandating annual training and hiring standards.
2017The National School Lunch Program is the largest federal child nutrition program and the second-largest single source of federal funding for elementary and secondary schools.
2018The organization moves back to VA to new headquarters located in the Shirlington neighborhood of Arlington.
2020School meals programs across the country pivot to establish curb side and grab and go feedings in a matter of days as schools close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Association’s advocacy arm mobilizes to secure needed federal waivers for emergency feeding operations and the annual national conference is cancelled for the first time in the history of the Association.

Thanks to the dedication of school nutrition professionals, each school day nearly 30 million students enjoy a nutritious school lunch and more than 14 million benefit from school breakfast.