SNA History & Milestones

In celebration of SNA’s 75th anniversary, 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, that we also encourage you to download and share.

We encourage you to take your time in reading these digital publications—learn more about SNA’s distinguished history. Share it with your team with PRIDE in your profession!

SNA has been advancing the availability, quality and acceptance of school nutrition programs as an integral part of education since 1946. The Association strives to see that all children have access to healthful school meals and nutrition education.

1932 Stockpiled agricultural surpluses (commodities) are supplied to some public schools.
1946 President Harry Truman signs the National School Lunch Act, which establishes the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). 
1946 The Food Service Directors Conference and the National School Cafeteria Association voted to merge, becoming the School Food Service Association.
1947 The first annual convention is held in Dallas. Attendance at the convention is 478, with 39 exhibitors.
1949 This 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.
1951 State associations are encouraged to affiliate under the national umbrella of the American School Food Service Association.
1955 The Association establishes its first national headquarters in Denver, Colo.
1962 A joint resolution in Congress establishes an annual National School Lunch Week.
1964 The School Food Service Foundation (now the School Nutrition Foundation) is established as a non-profit entity focusing on research and education.
1966 The Child Nutrition Act of 1966 creates a 2-year breakfast pilot, establishes foodservice equipment assistance and increases funds to feed needy children.
1969 The 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. 
1973 The first Legislative Action Conference is held to bring state leaders more directly into the lobbying process.
1975 Congress permanently authorizes the School Breakfast Program.
1981 The federal administration cuts one-third of child nutrition funding, with devastating consequences for school meal programs and NSLP participation.
1989 The Association launches National School Breakfast Week to raise awareness of the importance of school breakfast.
1990 The organization moves from Denver to Alexandria, Va.
1993 The 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.
1995 The Association leads successful fight against Congressional proposal for elimination of federal child nutrition programs in favor of block grants to states. 
1996 The Association celebrates its 50th Anniversary. 
1998 The Association launches the professional credentialing program. The designation is updated to School Nutrition Specialist (SNS) in 2004.
2004 The American School Food Service Association makes a “healthy change,” approving a new name: The School Nutrition Association.
2004 The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 mandates local school wellness policies involving communities in establishing healthy school environments.
2009 The organization relocates to new offices in National Harbor, MD.
2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act increases student access to child nutrition programs and establishes new nutrition standards for school meals/snacks.
2011 The 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.
2014 Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards are implemented, establishing nutrition standards for foods sold a la carte or in vending machines and snack bars.
2015 Professional Standards for school nutrition professionals take effect, mandating annual training and hiring standards.
2017 The 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.
2018 The organization moves back to VA to new headquarters located in the Shirlington neighborhood of Arlington.
2020 School 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.

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2900 S. Quincy Street, Suite 700
Arlington, VA 22206  

Tel (703) 824-3000
Fax (703) 824-3015

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The School Nutrition Association has a presence in every state across the country. View links to many of the state associations to find out more about what SNA is doing nationwide. 

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