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Universal Meals Resource Hub

Get an overview of the California Department of Education Nutrition Programs and resources here.

School meals support student health and learning. The resources below are some of the topics that advisors and experts at UCCE can help you with to maximize the impacts of your school meal program. 

If you're looking for technical assistance or support implementing Universal School Meals, we can help! 

Please contact us:

Nutrition Education

Laura Vollmer email: lvollmer@ucanr.edu

California Universal School Meals

CDE logo

CDE Universal Meals 

Overview of California Universal Meals, includes background, policy, webinars, resources, FAQ, and more.

Incorporating Local Food into School Meals

Incorporating local foods

USDA Guide to Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs

A guide for menu planning, procurement methods, and other tips for integrating local foods into your school menu.

Overview of Integrating Local Foods into Child Nutrition Programs

This USDA fact sheet walks you through the steps to develope a farm-to-school program.

Local Meats in Schools

This fact sheet provides examples, tips, and information for incorporating local meat into school meals.

Bid Generator

Online platform that supports school nutrition departments in connecting with local vendors, procuring local foods, and remaining in compliance with USDA standards.

Procuring Food Justice Report

Recommendations from the report will help guide the work of values-based food procurement, while implementing the principles of accountability, transparency, and racial equity throughout the process.  

Incorporating School Gardens

Learn how to use school gardens to grow healthy habits in cafeterias, classrooms, and communities.

Foodwise Interactive Seasonality Chart

Use this interactive seasonality chart to see what foods are in season in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

Marketing Your School Meal Program

Marketing your school meal program

Increasing Participation Through Alternative Meal Service Models

Alternative meal service models for you to increase your students' access and participation in school meals. 

Design Compelling Marketing

Tips for marketing your school meal program to families and caregivers to increase meal participation.

Conduct Community Outreach

Strategies for engaging the local community in your school meal program with an emphasis on summer meals.

Stronger with School Meals

Promote school meals with these exciting and colorful educational resources, designed to be used by teachers and school staff, parents, and students. These resources include activity booklets, stickers, button images, thank you cards, and infographics.

Photographing School Food

Tips on photographing school meals to boost enthusiasm, participation, and appreciation.

Recruitment and Retainment of School Nutrition Staff

Recruitment and retainment of staff

Recruitment Strategies

In this article, food service directors from across the country share ideas and tips on how to recruit school nutrition workers. 

Staff Appreciation

This resource offers tips and tricks for valuing and recognizing team members, keeping morale high, hosting team-building activities, and avoiding burnout at work.

Grant Opportunities

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USDA Grants Overview

List of USDA funded grants currently open for applications.

Second Harvest Grants Overview

List of Second Harvest funded grants currently open for applications.

Supporting the Use of Traditional Indigenous Foods in the Child Nutrition Programs Cooperative Agreement - Due April 8, 2024

The USDA FNS will award up to 4 organizations to provide training, technical assistance, and nutrition education to support the use of traditional Indigenous foods in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program, Seamless Summer Option, and/or Child and Adult Care Food Program At-Risk Afterschool Meals. The Lead Applicant entity must be led and staffed primarily by members of the Federally Recognized Tribes and/or Native Hawaiians but may have partners that are not.

Healthy Meals Incentives Recognition Awards - Rolling basis through June 30th, 2025

Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK) is offering Recognition Awards to celebrate School Food Authorities that have made significant improvements to the nutritional quality of their school meals. The Recognition Awards will spotlight innovative practices, student and community engagement activities, and strategies schools have used to provide meals that are consistent with the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

No Kid Hungry - Rolling

No Kid Hungry provides school districts and community based organizations with funds to support their child nutrition program. Submit an inquiry to learn more. 

Salad Bar Grant - Rolling 

The Whole Kids Foundation Grant provides all the equipment required for a salad bar (the bar, chill pads, pans, and tongs). Any district or independent school participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is eligible to apply. 

 

School Breakfast

School breakfast

The School Breakfast Program

This program fact sheet provides an overall description of the National School Breakfast program and how it works.

Making Breakfast Part of the School Day

This guide walks you through three alternative breakfast service models to help you find the right fit for your school and successfully increase breakfast participation.

Second Chance Breakfast Customizable Letter to Families

Use this customizable letter template to inform families and parents about your Breakfast after the Bell program. 

Strategies to Reduce Food Waste

School food waste

Strategies to Reduce Food Waste in Schools and Child Nutrition Programs

This resource highlights some of the most effective strategies to help reduce, recover and recycle food waste from school meals.

Farm to School

USDA Farm to School

National Farm to School Network Resource and Action Center

Learn about the Farm to School Journey, and all who are involved in getting healthy and nourishing food to kids in school.  

National Farm to School Network Fact Sheets & Resources

Downloadable fact sheets and outreach materials from the National Farm to School Network. Included are policy resources, ECE resources, and equity resources. Many resources are also translated in Spanish.  

Healthy School Toolkit

A guide for creating a vision of the future of your school, documenting your action plan for working toward that future, and evaluating and celebrating your school's history and progress. 

Family & Community Engagement

Family Engagement

Flyers Designed for Communicating Free School Meals

Flyers and social media posts for your use to communicate about free school meals for all students. Some translated versions available.

Local School Wellness Policy Resources and Tools

Infographics, quizzes, and resources to engage parents, teachers, school staff and others in your school districts local wellness committee. 

Recommendations For Communicating With Students & Families About School Meals

Research-based recommendations on how to communicate, engage, and raise awareness about school meals to students and caregivers both in and out of session. 

Gathering Feedback from Families to Inform Meal Service

Survey methods and ideas for gathering feedback from families about meal service to make informed decisions for your meal program and increase participation.

Professional Development

Professional Development

California Department of Education Resources

Information for the new School Nutrition Program (SNP) professionals and an overview of the School Nutrition and Summer Nutrition Programs, online trainings, resources, and program contact information.

Free Webinars and Training Videos

Pre-recorded videos for your food service team that covers a wide range of topics including culinary techniques, knife skills, food safety, parent advocacy, and more.

Online Courses for Food Service Professionals

Engaging and informative professional development training videos to support your food service team transition to scratch cooking. These courses can be used to fulfill the USDA's professional development requirements for food service professionals. 

Meal Applications

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Federal Meal Application

Application to determine and certify your students' eligibility for free or reduced-price meals or free milk benefits.  

Alternative Income Form

Alternative Income forms may be used in place of, or in conjunction with the federal meal application to determine eligibility for free or reduced-price meals.