Organizations Leading the Way to Healthier School Food in the USA

by Sycamore May
school food in cafeteria

The Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center has curated an impactful list of organizations focused on enhancing the quality of school food in the USA. The selection process involved researching and identifying organizations that have a track record for working on issues related to school food quality, nutrition education, and promoting healthier eating habits among students. 

Whether it’s advocating for policy changes, providing resources for healthier meals, or promoting sustainable food practices, these organizations play a vital role in shaping the future of school food. If you know of an organization that should be included in this list, please feel free to reach out to us at 

Alliance for a Healthier Generation

  • Location: Various locations across the USA
  • Year Started: 2005
  • Founder: The American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation
  • Mission: The Alliance for a Healthier Generation empowers kids to develop lifelong, healthy habits by working to create environments that promote good health, including improving school food quality and physical activity.
  • What They Do: Collaborate with schools to implement healthier food and beverage guidelines, promote physical activity, and provide resources for schools to create healthier environments for students.
  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram


  • Location: New London, Connecticut, with programs in various schools
  • Year Started: 2016
  • Founder: Dan Giusti
  • Mission:Transforming school food by placing professional chefs in schools to improve meal quality, nutrition, and the overall dining experience for students.
  • What They Do: Brigaid partners with schools to bring professional chefs into school kitchens, where they work alongside existing staff to develop and implement scratch-cooked meals. They focus on using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients to create more nutritious and appealing meals for students. The chefs also provide training for kitchen staff and collaborate with schools to enhance the overall dining environment.
  • Social Media: Twitter, Instagram

Brighter Bites

  • Location: Houston, Texas, with locations in multiple cities
  • Year Started: 2012
  • Founder: Lisa Helfman
  • Mission: To improve access to fresh produce and provide nutrition-education to underserved communities, including school children. They distribute fruits and vegetables and offer nutrition-education materials to families, with a focus on improving overall health.
  • What They Do: Distribute fresh produce to families in need, conduct nutrition education sessions, and collaborate with schools to promote healthier eating habits among students and their families.
  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

Center for Ecoliteracy

  • Location: Berkeley, California
  • Year Started: 1995
  • Founder: Fritjof Capra, Peter Buckley, and Zenobia Barlow
  • Mission: The Center for Ecoliteracy advances ecology and food systems-thinking in primary and secondary education to create a more sustainable and healthy future, including improving school-food practices.
  • What They Do: Develop educational materials, resources, and programs that promote ecological understanding and encourage schools to adopt healthier and more sustainable food practices.
  • Social Media: Threads, Facebook, Instagram

Chef Ann Foundation

  • Location: Boulder, Colorado
  • Year Started: 2009
  • Founder: Ann Cooper
  • Mission: To provide tools, resources, and support to schools to help them transition to scratch-cooked meals made from whole, fresh ingredients, with the goal of improving children’s health and well-being.
  • What They Do: Collaborate with schools to improve food quality, offer training for food service staff, and advocate for policy changes that promote healthier school meals.
  • Chef Ann Foundation’s Healthy School Food Pathways (HSFP) Fellowship application is open until October 1, 2023. Learn more and apply through this link!
  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

Coalition for Healthy School Food

  • Location: New York State
  • Year Started: 2004
  • Founder: Amie Hamlin
  • Mission: The Coalition for Healthy School Food advocates for plant-based, healthy food options in school cafeterias in order to promote the well-being of students and the environment.
  • What They Do: Promote the benefits of plant-based diets, offer resources for schools to incorporate more plant-based options in their menus, and advocate for policies that support healthier food choices in schools.
  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook

Farm to School Network

  • Location: National organization with regional networks
  • Year Started: 2007
  • Founder: Helen Dombalis
  • Mission: Connecting schools with local farmers to provide fresh, locally-sourced food in school cafeterias while also supporting education about food, agriculture, and nutrition.
  • What They Do: Facilitate partnerships between schools and local farmers, assist with garden-based learning, provide resources for incorporating local foods into school meals, and advocate for policies that support farm-to-school initiatives.
  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram


  • Location: Various locations across the USA
  • Year Started: 2010
  • Founder: Curt Ellis, Debra Eschmeyer, Crissie McMullan, Jerusha Klemperer, Ian Cheney, and Cecily Upton
  • Mission: Connecting kids to healthy food in schools by providing hands-on experiences with gardening and nutrition education and working to improve school cafeteria food.
  • What They Do: Place service members in schools to engage students in hands-on activities, such as growing gardens, cooking, and taste-testing new foods, while also advocating for healthier food options.
  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

Green Bronx Machine

  • Location: Bronx, New York
  • Year Started: 2011
  • Founder: Stephen Ritz
  • Mission: Green Bronx Machine uses urban agriculture to transform communities and cultivate minds, providing students with access to healthy, affordable food while also promoting academic and personal growth.
  • What They Do: Implement classroom-based, urban farming programs in schools to teach students about nutrition, sustainability, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects. They also operate a mobile food truck called “The Veggie Mobile Classroom” to bring fresh produce to underserved communities.
  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

Healthy Schools Campaign

  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Year Started: 2002
  • Founder: Rochelle Davis
  • Mission: The Healthy Schools Campaign advocates for policies and programs that promote health and wellness in schools, including efforts to improve school food quality and nutrition education.
  • What They Do: Advocate for federal and state policies that support healthier school food options, provide resources for schools to implement wellness programs, and promote school environments that prioritize student health.
  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

Nourish Colorado

  • Location: Colorado
  • Year Started: 2010
  • Executive Director: Wendy Peters Moschetti
  • Mission: Nourish Colorado strengthens connections with and between farms, ranches, and communities so that all Coloradans have equitable access to fresh, nutritious foods.
  • What They Do: Work on various initiatives to improve food access and food systems, including farm-to-school programs, nutrition education, culinary training, advocating for policies that support food equity, and developing community partnerships to rebalance the food system and create healthy food environments.
  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

Pilot Light

  • Location: Chicago, Illinois
  • Year Started: 2010
  • Founder: Chefs Paul Kahan, Matthias Merges, and Jason Hammel
  • Mission: Pilot Light empowers children to make healthier choices by connecting the lessons they learn in their classrooms to the foods they eat on their lunch trays, at home, and in their communities.
  • What They Do: Collaborate with educators and chefs to develop curriculum and educational resources that integrate food education into core subjects. Pilot Light’s goal is to create a generation of food-conscious individuals who make healthier choices.
  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

Red Rabbit

  • Location: New York, New York, serving various schools in the NYC area
  • Year Started: 2005
  • Founder: Rhys Powell
  • Mission: To provide healthy, made-from-scratch meals to schools, with a focus on education and creating positive food experiences for children.
  • What They Do: Red Rabbit partners with schools to offer freshly prepared, balanced meals made from whole ingredients. They prioritize nutrition education and engage students in food-related activities to foster a deeper understanding of healthy eating. Red Rabbit aims to create a positive food culture in schools by making nutritious meals enjoyable and accessible.
  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

School Nutrition Association

  • Location: National organization with state and local chapters
  • Year Started: 1946
  • Founder: School nutrition professionals
  • Mission: While primarily an organization for school nutrition professionals, SNA also advocates for improving school nutrition standards and policies to ensure the provision of healthy meals to students.
  • What They Do: Provide education and training for school nutrition professionals, advocate for federal and state policies related to school meals, and support initiatives that improve the quality of food served in schools.
  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

Wellness in the Schools

  • Location: New York City with programs in various schools
  • Year Started: 2005
  • Founder: Nancy Easton and Chef Bill Telepan
  • Mission: To Inspire healthy eating, environmental awareness, and fitness as a way of life for children in public schools, with an aim to improve the overall well-being of students and promote healthier school environments.
  • What They Do: Collaborate with schools, parents, and communities to establish scratch-cooked meals, salad bars, physical activity programs, and nutrition education. Create wellness councils and initiatives that foster positive changes in school wellness policies and practices.
  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram

Related Articles

Subscribe To Weekly NYC Food Policy Watch Newsletter
Subscribe to our weekly email newsletter today to receive updates on the latest news, reports and event information
No Thanks
Thanks for signing up. You must confirm your email address before we can send you. Please check your email and follow the instructions.
We respect your privacy. Your information is safe and will never be shared.
Don't miss out. Subscribe today.