Dayle Hayes: A Powerful Voice Supporting School Meals

Photo: Jessie Moore Photography

Dayle Hayes, MS, RD, is passionate about school meals — from the food placed on the plate to the people who prepare and serve it to kids. A champion for school nutrition, Hayes has worked with government agencies, agricultural commodity boards and educational institutions, providing strategic support and technical assistance.

“The need is clear: Every school day, more than 14 million children in the U.S. eat school breakfast, and more than 30 million children eat school lunch,” Hayes says. “The majority of these students live in low-income homes and are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.”

As president of Nutrition for the Future Inc., in Bozeman, Mont., Hayes leads educational presentations for groups ranging from lunchroom servers to school superintendents throughout the country and in Canada. “I talk to anyone who will listen about the importance of school meals that rock for smart brains, strong bodies and super behavior,” she says.

Understanding that some people have an outdated and inaccurate view of school meals, Hayes uses social media (@SchoolMealsThatRock) to showcase outstanding school districts and nutrition professionals. “Lunch ladies and food dudes have some of the most important jobs in our country,” she says. “I try hard to make certain they get the recognition, support and training they deserve.”

And Hayes isn’t stopping there. “I am planning to devote my ‘retirement’ to improving school eating environments,” she says. “My inspiration is quite simple: I believe that no child should go hungry in America.”

Lauren Fox

Lauren Fox is the managing editor of Food & Nutrition Magazine and senior manager of creative media at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.