BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Public Schools announced Wednesday that all students pre-K through 12 should expect to return to full in-person learning in September.
Following that announcement, parents gathered outside Waterfront Elementary School ahead of the Board of Education meeting to ask the district to continue to invest in student food and nutrition.
Community Health Worker Parent Association President Jessica Bauer Walker said she's been working for the last decade to make improvements to student nutrition in Buffalo Public Schools. She said they have come a long way.
"Most of the food was highly processed and sugary that the kids were getting. Over the course of 10 years, we've gotten more healthy foods and whole grain foods, the kids get free breakfast and lunch," she said. "Youth advocated for salad bars and got salad bars in all the schools."
However, Bauer Walker said during the COVID pandemic, things started to slip with more students receiving pre-packaged foods. She said she would like to see some of the $232 million from the American Rescue Plan be used for projects to support nutritional food in school.
"There is a big central food service building, and that building has been under a lot of stress because they have had to do a lot over the years, so there needs to be some improvements structurally, and more food storage, and more capacity for from-scratch cooking of fresh healthy food," she said.
Bauer Walker also said they would like the district's wellness policy, which was implemented in 2017, to be updated.
Buffalo Public Schools Associate Superintendent for Student Support Services Dr. Tonja Williams said the district has gone through the assessment process with the policy and said updates could be made as soon as September.
"I just want the community to know we have kept the work up on this wellness policy. It's a priority, it's a priority," she said.