The School Nutrition Association (SNA, formerly American School Food Service Association) is a national, nonprofit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country.

The Association works to ensure all children have access to healthful school meals and nutrition education by:

  • Providing members with education and training
  • Setting standards through certification and credentialing
  • Gathering and transmitting regulatory, legislative, industry, nutritional and other types of information related to school nutrition
  • Representing the nutritional interests of all children

Recognized as the authority on school nutrition, SNA has been advancing the availability, quality and acceptance of school nutrition programs as an integral part of education since 1946.

In 1964, SNA established a sister organization called the School Nutrition Foundation, which plays a critical role by raising money for professional development and outreach programs, as well as providing members with tuition assistance opportunities.

With 52 state affiliates, hundreds of local chapters and thousands of school nutrition members and industry partners, SNA brings a unique, firsthand perspective to child nutrition issues.

SNA History & Milestones

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). Basic nutritional guidelines are established.
1946 During a combined meeting of the Food Service Directors Conference and the National School Cafeteria Association, the membership of the two groups voted to merge, and the School Food Service Association was born.
1947 The first annual convention was held in Dallas. Attendance at the convention was 478, and there were 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 affiliate organizations were encouraged to align under the national umbrella. This meant giving a specific national identity to that umbrella, and thus the organization changed its name to 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 SNA’s School Food Service Foundation (known today as the School Nutrition Foundation) is established as a non-profit entity focusing on research and professional development.
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 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health leads to the expansion of child nutrition programs and the enactment of the free and reduced-price school lunch program for low-income students. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is established.
1973 The first Legislative Action Conference was held in 1973 as a way to bring state leaders more directly into the lobbying process.
1975 Congress permanently authorizes the School Breakfast Program.
1981 Federal administration cuts one-third of child nutrition funding, with devastating consequences for local programs and NSLP participation.
1989 SNA launches National School Breakfast Week to raise awareness about the availability of breakfast at school and highlights the link between breakfast and cognitive growth.
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.
1990 Coming a long way from the original Denver storefront with two employees, the Association finds a new home in Alexandria, Va., as well as adds a number of new employees.
1995 Child nutrition programs are challenged, as Congress seeks to cut government spending. The “Contract with America” includes welfare-reform provisions to cut all child nutrition entitlement programs in favor of block grants to the states. Block grants are defeated, and child nutrition programs remain intact.
1998 The Association launches the School Foodservice & Nutrition Specialist (SFNS) Credentialing program. It represents one of the most important professional development initiatives in the Association’s history. The designation was 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.
2010 President Barack Obama signs the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act into law (P.L. 111-296).
2015 Today, 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.