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Boston awarded $150,000 grant to support healthy meals for public school students


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Mayor's Office

Mayor Martin J. Walsh accepted a  $150,000 grant that will benefit 57,000 Boston Public School (BPS) students, and support BPS's program, BOSFoodLove.

BOSFoodLove, a partnership between BPS's Food and Nutrition Services and the Mayor's Office of Food Access, will work to ensure each and every child receives healthy and delicious meals to fuel their school performance and success. Boston received this 2018 Childhood Obesity Prevention Grant award from the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), in partnership with the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America, during USCM's 86th Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C.

"Mayors across the country are leading the way to make sure our students and families have access to fresh, healthy food," said Mayor Walsh. "This grant will continue to support Boston's work to improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables through school meals. Choices at our schools need to work for all families and all students, many of whom depend on school meals. I'm proud that with this grant, we will continue to create happy, successful students, while listening to the needs of our communities."

BOSFoodLove will improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables among BPS students through increased participation in and consumption of school meals. Emphasis on student and parent engagement, to solicit input into the school food programs, will ensure that all BPS students have access to free, healthy food that meets their dietary needs and preferences and supports their ability to perform well in school.

The goal of this program is to make all students feel as though school meals are a good option for them. In addition to students benefiting from enjoyable, healthy meals at school, families facing food insecurity will benefit from BOSFoodLove, as it will reduce their burden to provide healthy meals for their children.

Nearly three quarters of BPS students live at or below the poverty line, and only 39 percent participate in school breakfast, while 65 percent participate in school lunch. For children who attend Boston Public Schools, all breakfasts and lunches are free, regardless of family income.

"America's beverage companies believe in the power of partnerships and the positive impact they can have on communities. The American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America is proud to partner with the U.S. Conference of Mayors to support the great work of mayors like Mayor Walsh who are proactively tackling childhood obesity in creative ways," said Susan Neely, president of the American Beverage Foundation for a Healthy America Board of Directors and president and CEO of the American Beverage Association. "BOSFoodLove is an excellent example of an innovative program that inspires and encourages young people to maintain a balanced diet so they can reach their full potential. Working together, government and industry can bring about lasting change not just to Boston but to communities across the nation."

This grant builds off of Mayor Walsh's ongoing work to create welcoming, engaging food options for students throughout Boston. Last summer, the Mayor's Office of Food Access, BPS and the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics piloted "Lunch on the Lawn," which served students breakfast and lunch at sites throughout the City during the summer months at no cost. The Mayor's Office of Food Accessalso piloted "Books and Bites" summer meals at Boston Public Libraries with Project Bread, and served over 3,000 meals at the Mattapan Public Library. During Mayor Walsh's inauguration address at the beginning of this year, he pledged to increase the scale of BPS's fresh food "Hub and Spoke" pilot program, which includes renovating school kitchen facilities as part of BuildBPS, Boston's $1 billion plan to upgrade schools across the district.