This toolkit was created to raise awareness about the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) child nutrition waiver extensions, which offer free school meals to all children, regardless of household income, through September 30, 2021. It is a resource for CDC Healthy Schools partners as well as education leaders and stakeholders.
Partners and schools can use this toolkit to let parents know that school meals are available for all children and to encourage their participation in school meal programs. This toolkit includes background information, sample social media posts, graphics, and newsletter text.
About the USDA Waiver Extensions
USDA is offering free meals to children (18 years and under) through September 30, 2021. According to USDA, “This unprecedented move is part of USDA’s unwavering commitment to ensuring all children across America have access to nutritious food as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Regardless of household income, any child can get free and healthy breakfast and lunch meals for the rest of the school year, as well as the summer months. We want to get the word out that these school meals are for ALL children. Participating in school meal programs helps both families and schools. More participation means more children eating healthy foods and more funding for their school district’s nutrition program.
Why USDA Is Offering School Meals
Food insecurity has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. School meals can help reduce food insecurity and stretch the household budget, and reduce stress from meal prepping. School meals are also healthy and meet federal nutrition standards. Studies show that students who participate in school meal programs consume more milk, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables during mealtimes and have better overall diet quality than students who don’t participate.
Sample Social Media Posts and Graphics
Sample Social Media Posts
You can tailor the following text for your specific audience, social media channels, and community. You can add specific school or district names, contact information, and information about how food is given out.
Consider these tips for posting:
- Upload a graphic with your message to increase the number of people who see and interact with your post.
- Include the hashtags #CDCHealthySchools and #SchoolMeals4Everyone to help people find more related posts. This will also help CDC Healthy Schools find your posts more easily.
- Tag partners, school districts, schools, and other school health champions.
- Use emojis when appropriate to draw attention and increase engagement.
- Encourage and respond to comments and encourage people to share your posts.
Post 1: Hey parents! Do you stress about what to make your kids for lunch? Are you working from home while also playing the role of teacher, principal, and cook? Whether school is in session, or the kids are on summer break, let your school take meal prep off your to-do list. Schools are now able to provide free meals to ALL children, regardless of household income, through September 30, 2021. Check with your school district for more information.
Post 2: School nutrition programs are working hard to make sure all students have continued access to safe and healthy school meals, whether they are attending class in-person or online, or on summer break. School meals are available for ALL children. In fact, participating in school nutrition programs helps your school keep much-needed funding. Visit your school’s website to learn more about how to get free school meals.
Post 3: School meals are a great way to stretch the household budget and reduce stress on parents. School meals are also healthy and meet federal nutrition standards. In fact, studies show that students who participate in school meal programs have better overall diet quality than students who don’t participate. Visit your school or district’s website to learn more about how to get free school meals.
Post 4: Hey parents! Take meal prep off your to-do list. Visit your school’s website to learn more about how to get free school meals.
Post 5: Update! Schools are now able to provide free meals to ALL children throughout the summer, too. Visit your school's website for more info.
Post 6: DYK that your children are eligible for free breakfasts and lunches throughout the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, and also over summer break? Regardless of household income, any child (18 years and under) can get free and healthy school meals through September 30, 2021; and you can get a much needed break from worrying about what's for breakfast and lunch. Check with your school district for more information.
Social Media Graphics
To download the graphics: Click on a graphic to Open the preview, then right-click on the image and select "save as."