Building and presenting a strong case for your meal program
If the changes to your school meal program that you're contemplating require approval from the school board, here are some best practices to present a strong case.
Identify Your Goal & Why you're making this ask
By seeking approval for a new program or revision to how your meal program is operated, you are advocating for that particular goal. As you think about that goal, identify 3 words that best represent the cores values of that project for you. Use those 3 words as your conversation "islands"- safe ground you can always return to as you tell your story and advocate for your cause.
Gather relevant data
Understand the potential impact and implications of what you are advocating for. Information that you should be prepared to discuss includes (1) your school's free and reduced rate, (2) current meal program participation and the estimated number of students who would participate after a change is made, (3) budget to implement this change, and (4) who else will need to be involved.
You may also share information about why this new program or change to an existing program is needed. This may include
- 1 in __ kids are at risk of hunger in our community
- If we enrolled __ more kids in our meal program, we would be eligible to provide universal afterschool and summer meals
- In our school, only __% of low-income students are eating breakfast
Don't go it alone
Invite staff from Hunger Free Vermont, VT FEED, and your regional farm to school organization to help through this process. Partners will be critical in developing your argument, gathering relevant data and information, and bringing another strong voice to the table.
Collect success stories from other schools
The above-mentioned partners can support you in gathering case studies or stories from other schools in Vermont who have gone through a similar transition. Reach out to access stories that can be shared.
Make a request
Make it clear, make it specific (including by when), and make it doable. Be prepared to receive a yes, no, or counter-offer.