03.07.2019 Agency Information Collection Activities Proposal Collection; Comment request-Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Integrity Study
In a Federal Register notice published on March 7, 2019, FNS provided notice that it is seeking public comment on a proposed information collection activity to study how the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is administered and Monitored by State agencies and SFSP sponsors and sites, and to identify the common SFSP integrity challenges. FNS is seeking input on whether the information collection is necessary, the accuracy of their burden estimates, ways to improve the information that is collected and ways to minimize the burden of the collection on respondents. Comments must be received on or before May 9, 2019.
NSLP and SBP Participation Analysis Now Available!
Check out the newest NSLP and SBP numbers with detailed charts and tables that break down changes in school lunch and breakfast over the last five years. Read More
SNA Past President Dr. Katie Wilson Named Executive Director of Urban School Food Alliance
Congratulations to 2008-09 SNA President Dr. Katie Wilson, PhD, SNS, who has been named the first executive director of the Urban School Food Alliance. Read More
SNA Responds to School Meal Flexibilities Complaints
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) has responded to lawsuits regarding USDA’s 2018 final rule Child Nutrition Programs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements. Its official statement follows:
SNA supports the December 2018 final rule on school meal flexibilities, which aligns with the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) scientific recommendations for updating school meal nutrition standards.
Representing 58,000 school nutrition professionals who prepare meals for 30 million students daily, SNA commends USDA’s final rule protecting limits on calories and unhealthy fat, which ensure school meals do not contribute to obesity. SNA also supports mandates to offer students larger servings and a wider variety of fruits and vegetables and celebrates the tremendous progress schools have achieved in improving the nutrition and quality of school meals.
USDA’s final rule maintained current Target 1 sodium limits, preserving the significant sodium cuts already made to school meals, and extended the timeframe to achieve Target 2 limits. This adjustment reflects six years of feedback from school nutrition programs across the country and mirrors anticipated challenges IOM identified when developing its scientific recommendations. In “School Meals: Building Blocks for Healthy Children,” IOM stated that once Target 1 sodium limits were implemented,
it would be appropriate to assess progress and effects of the actions on student participation rates, food cost, safety, and food service operations to determine a reasonable target for the next period. The committee recognizes that reducing the sodium content of school meals as specified in Table 7-3 and in a way that is well accepted by students will present major challenges and may not be possible.
Similarly, citing student acceptability, product availability and cost, the IOM recommended a whole grain requirement in line with the 2018 final rule. The IOM’s “Major Recommended Changes in the Meal Requirements” recommend that “At least half of the bread/grain offerings must meet the criterion for a whole grain-rich food (based on at least half of the grain content as whole grain).”
“SNA appreciates USDA’s efforts to preserve strong standards to benefit students while addressing long-standing challenges to ensure they choose and consume healthy school meals,” said SNA President Gay Anderson, SNS. SNA’s professional development programming supports members as they work to exceed these minimum utrition standards and share best practices with their colleagues.
For any questions, contact the SNA Government Affairs and Media Relations Team at (800) 877-8822 or email@example.com.
Trump Administration Sued Over Rollback of School Lunch Standards
Click here to read article in the New York Times.
FNS Extends FNS-640 Deadline and Issues Instructions and Reporting Guidance
Last week, FNS posted a memo with instructions and reporting guidance for state agencies using form FNS-640 to report SY 2017-18 Administrative Review data. The memo also extended the reporting deadline to May 1, 2019, due to delays caused by the government shutdown and system development schedules.
12.12.2018 Child Nutrition Programs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements
In a Federal Register notice published on December 12, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced a final rule on flexibilities for milk, whole grain and sodium requirements in Child Nutrition Programs (CNP). The Final Rule broadens the milk options in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the School Breakfast Program (SBP), the Special Milk Program (SMP) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). It also requires that half of the weekly grains served in NSLP and SBP menus be whole grain-rich, and retains Sodium Target 1 through the end of School Year (SY) 2023-24, continuing to Target 2 in SY 2024-25 and eliminating the Final Target.
12.20.2018 Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request-Generic Clearance To Conduct Formative Research or Development of Nutrition Education and Promotion Materials and Related Tools and Grants for FNS Population Groups
In a Federal Register notice published on December 20, 2018, FNS provided notice that it is seeking comment on a proposed extension of an approved information collection to conduct formative research or development of nutrition education and promotion materials and related tools and grants for FNS population groups. The collection will support the development of science-based nutrition education for targeted audiences and assist FNS in identifying effective design and implementation approaches for the development and assessment of grants. FNS is seeking input on whether the information collection is necessary, the accuracy of their burden estimates, ways to improve the information that is collected and ways to minimize the burden of the collection on respondents. Comments must be received on or before February 19, 2019.
02.01.2019 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: Requirements for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents
In a Federal Register notice published on February 1, 2019, FNS announced a proposed rule on requirements for Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWD) participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The proposed rule would encourage broader application of the program’s ABAWD work requirements, and limit State agencies’ access to waivers of these requirements for areas with high unemploymnt or scarce job opportunities. Comments must be received on or before April 2, 2019.
03.01.2019 Hiring Flexibility Under Professional Standards
In a Federal Register notice published on March 1, 2019, FNS announced a final rule adding four flexibilities to the hiring standards for new school nutrition program directors in small Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and new State directors of school nutrition programs under the Professional Standards regulations for NSLP and SBP
03.07.2019 Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request-Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Integrity Study
In a Federal Register notice published on March 7, 2019, FNS provided notice that it is seeking public comment on a proposed information collection activity to study how the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is administered and monitored by State agencies and SFSP sponsors and sites, and to identify common SFSP integrity challenges. FNS is seeking input on whether the information collection is necessary, the accuracy of their burden estimates, ways to improve the information that is collected and ways to minimize the burden of the collection on respondents. Comments must be received on or before May 6, 2019.
03.07.2019 Hiring Flexibility Under Professional Standards; Correction
In a Federal Register notice published on March 7, 2019, FNS provided a correction to the Final Rule published on March 1, 2019, “Hiring Flexibility Under Professional Standards.” A correction is made to a table providing a summary of professional standards for school nutrition program directors by LEA size.
SNA Statement on Federal Government Shutdown
Yesterday, SNA issued a press release calling for an end to the federal government shutdown before any lapse in school meal funding occurs.
“School meal programs operate on extremely tight budgets, and many lack reserve funds to continue serving students should federal funding lapse,” said SNA President Gay Anderson, SNS. “School districts - especially those serving America’s neediest students - are simply not equipped to cover meal expenses without federal support. Congress and President Trump must ensure students continue to receive the nutrition they need to succeed in school. SNA urges swift action to resolve the ongoing government shutdown.”
In an FNS memo and via Twitter, USDA has confirmed that states were provided adequate funds to support school meal programs through the month of March. SNA continues to monitor developments and maintain constant communication with USDA and Members of Congress regarding the need to ensure school meal programs remain fully funded.
SNA will provide further updates as information becomes available.
#NSBW19: Tools, Social Media, Contest and More!
The race is on—National School Breakfast Week is just six weeks away! But don’t worry, SNA has you covered—we’re your one-stop pit shop for resources and materials to help plan your celebration and start getting students and parents revved up for #NSBW19! This year’s “Start Your Engines artwork and logos, made available with support by Kellogg's, features eight Breakfast Racers and characters, making for an exciting lineup! School districts that want to download the artwork, simply need to fill out the short online form.
You’ll also want to download the 16-page NSBW Toolkit which is chock full of resources and ideas for a successful campaign, including sample social media posts. Speaking of social media, make sure to check out our social media tips sheet, #NSBW19 Facebook cover image, Instagram meme and infographic from the Marketing and PR Resources web page to share on your district’s social media channels.
Eye-catching NSBW activity sheets and coloring pages are a quick and easy way to engage students—have them work on the activities with their classmates and display their racing artwork in the cafeteria. You’ll find many more ideas on how to spark creativity in the November issue of School Nutrition, with bonus web content featuring photography tips and racing terminology that will get your engines humming.
Don’t forget to purchase your Start Your Engines Emporium shop gear early before popular items sell out and to ensure a timely delivery. To place an order, call 1-800-728-0728 between the hours of 8:00 am and 6:00 pm EST Monday through Friday, or fax your order to 443-964-8206. Download the Emporium catalog to view all the merchandise available and an order form.
Make sure you enter the #NSBW19 Contest for your chance to win a $50 SNA Emporium Shop gift certificate—we want to hear about your celebration plans! The deadline is February 4, just two weeks away, so enter today! Contest winners and other members who participate may have their celebrations shared in School Nutrition magazine and on SNA’s social media channels.
SNA 2019-20 National Committee Openings
There is still time! If you're interested in serving on a SNA Committee or Council, it’s not too late to submit your interest form! But hurry, the January 25th deadline is fast approaching!
Serving on a SNA committee/council offers exciting opportunities to grow professionally, develop new skills, work on issues from a national perspective and make a contribution to the school nutrition profession!
There are 28 open committee positions for 2019-20. SNA has five committees to which members are appointed to serve by the Board of Directors:
- Nutrition & Research
- Professional Development
- Public Policy & Legislation
- Resolutions & Bylaws
There are also opportunities for industry representatives on the following committees for 2019-20:
- Nutrition & Research
- Resolutions & Bylaws
SNA needs members who want to play an active role in assisting SNA accomplish its Strategic Plan goals. Each committee is charged by the Board of Directors to complete work based on the Association’s Strategic Plan.
Please return the Committee/Council Interest Form by January 25, 2019.
If you have any questions, please contact Deborah Van Balen, Executive Assistant to the Chief Executive Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (800) 877-8822, ext. 114
Child Nutrition Programs During the Federal Government Shutdown
In a press release, USDA provided updates on the impact of the partial government shutdown, which began on December 22, 2018, on Child Nutrition programs. This includes the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Child and Adult Care Feeding Program, Summer Food Service and the Special Milk Program.
According to USDA, these programs will continue operations into February, as meal providers are paid on a reimbursement basis 30 days after the end of the service month. The FNS Contingency Plan for Shutdown Due to a Lapse in Appropriations states, “FNS currently receives a series of appropriations for activities within the Child Nutrition programs and for the Senior Farmers Market program directly from authorizing statute without need of annual appropriation action. These programs and activities will continue during a lapse in annual appropriations.”
The USDA website will not be updated or maintained while the lapse in federal funding continues, and we encourage members to use their State agency and SNA as a resource during this time.
SNA will continue to provide information as it becomes available.
Registration now open for #VirtualExpo19—
New sessions added!
Get ready to experience the future of sourcing new products, equipment, and technology. Registration is now open for SNA’s 3rd Annual FREE Virtual Expo launching February 5! Register now to be among the first to gain access—no travel or expense required!
You won’t want to miss visiting 20+ interactive vendor booths in two virtual Exhibit Halls and connecting in real time with colleagues in the Networking Lounge, all at your convenience, from your own device.
Inside the exhibitor booths, you can download literature and save it to your virtual briefcase, view videos, and even chat live with vendors at designated times. You’ll be able to come back as often as you want 24/7—you don’t have to do it all at once! View the current list of exhibitors.
In 2019, the Expo Learning Center will feature 15 new pre-recorded education sessions from #ANC18 plus archived sessions from the previous years’ Expo, offering you lots of opportunities to earn valuable CEUs at your convenience.
Sessions just announced include:
- Cooking Up Success With your Administration and School Board
- Reaching Kids on the Go: Food Delivery, Pre-ordering and Food Trucks
- Student Food Choices- Ages and Stages
- The Rx for a Healthy Team
- Teaching Adults is Sometimes Like Herding Cats
View the full session descriptions.
Big News! On Thursday, December 6, the USDA announced the Final Rule on School Meal Flexibilities.
SNA commends USDA for taking steps to address continued challenges with school meal standards. The Final Rule:
- Maintains Target 1 sodium limits through SY 2023-2024 and eliminates Target 3.
- Restores the mandate that at least half of grains offered be whole grain rich and eliminates waivers.
- Makes permanent the option to offer flavored 1% milk.
This change is a reflection of your hard work advocating for school meals. Thank you for speaking up!
Read SNA's Press Release.
Read the Final Rule.
FDA To Test Romaine Lettuce After Outbreak
Romaine lettuce is going to come under an increased level of scrutiny before it reaches Caesar salads everywhere after a deadly E. coli O157:H7 outbreak tied to greens grown in Yuma, Ariz., earlier this year. The FDA said Thursday it's launching a special surveillance project to monitor romaine lettuce for contamination.
"This will help us determine whether products are safe to enter the U.S. marketplace," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.
— It was probably the water: FDA conducted an intensive, months long investigation after the outbreak in Yuma-produced romaine, but could not nail down the definitive cause. In an environmental assessment released Thursday, FDA said contaminated canal water was likely the mode of contamination, but investigators couldn't rule out other possibilities.
FDA found the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 in sampling of water from three locations along a 3.5-mile stretch of an irrigation canal adjacent to both lettuce growing fields and a CAFO.
— Where are the produce safety water standards? The fact that FDA identified water as the likely means of contamination led consumer groups to call on the agency to finalize its long-delayed water-safety standards under the Food Safety Modernization Act produce-safety rule.
— Slow regulatory roll: Last year, FDA essentially scrapped its water standards after produce growers, local food advocates and others connected to the sector criticized the regulations as being too complicated and unworkable for growers. Compliance with water standards for produce growers has been pushed back several years to give FDA more time to develop new, more workable standards.
"In light of this assessment, FDA must finalize its safety standards for agricultural water soon — in a matter of months, not years," Sandra Eskin, head of food safety at the Pew Charitable Trusts, said in an email to MA. Eskin suggested FDA should develop stronger standards than it previously proposed.
Summer Food Service Program Waivers Rescinded
As a result of the USDA Office of Inspector General review of USDA FNS controls over the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), FNS concluded that several policy memoranda waiving SFSP requirements were not fully consistent with all requirements of the National School Lunch Act.
The School Nutrition Foundation (SNF)
is now accepting applications for the 2019 Winston Equipment Grant.
The 2019 Winston Equipment Grant opened on October 22, 2018 and will close on January 31, 2019. The recipient of this grant will be awarded 10 pieces of equipment, which could include CVap® holding cabinets, holding drawers, and rethermalizers. Complete a short survey with basic information about your district and create a video to ‘show’ us your story, videos should be no longer than 2 minutes in length. To learn more about the application process, visit our website.
Questionnaire helps diagnose GI disorders in youths with ASD
Researchers found that a 17-item questionnaire correctly identified 84% of children with autism spectrum disorder who had gastrointestinal disorders, such as diarrhea, constipation and reflux disease. The findings, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, are helpful because such children sometimes have trouble describing their symptoms and GI problems "can be painful and disabling and they can have profound effects on a child's behavior," Dr. Kara Margolis said in a statement.
United Press International (10/23)
Salmonella Outbreak From Raw Chicken
The CDC said 92 people across 29 states have been infected by an outbreak of Salmonella linked to raw chicken. No deaths were reported, but 21 people have been hospitalized, the agency said. A common supplier of chicken products hasn't been identified yet.
Bill to Increase Breakfast After the Bell Introduced in Congress
Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA) introduced the Breakfast After the Bell Act of 2018, which, if passed, will provide additional funds to certain schools that serve breakfast to students after the start of the school day.
FY 2019 Farm to School Grants Now Available!
October is National Farm to School Month, and FNS has opened applications for the FY 2019 Farm to School Grant. This year, FNS is seeking to award $7.5 million in funding to increase the availability of local foods in school meals programs. Visit the FNS website for information about past awardees and resources to help you apply. Applications close December 4, 2018.
Commodity Value is the same as we received in the summer but here is the official wording from the Federal Register for the .235 cents in commodity value through USDA for each lunch. None for breakfast yet.
The value of food assistance is adjusted each July 1 by the annual percentage change in a three-month average value of the Price Index for March, April, and May each year. The three-month average of the Price Index increased by 0.64 percent from 203.76 for March, April, and May of 2017, as previously published in the Federal Register, to 205.07 for the same three months in 2018. When computed on the basis of unrounded data and rounded to the nearest one-quarter cent, the resulting national average for the period July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, will be 23.50 cents per meal. This is an increase of one quarter of a cent from the school year 2018 (July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018) rate.
Ready to Eat Ham Recall
89,000 pounds of Johnston County Ready to Eat Hams is being recalled
The establishment number inside the USDA establishment is "EST.M2646". The product was distributed in Maryland according to Food & Nutrition Safety and Inspection Service. it has been linked to possible Llisteria contamination.
Raw Beef Recall Due to Possible Salmonella Contamination
6.5 million pounds of raw beef products bearing the establishment number
"EST.267" inside the USDA trademark have been recalled due to possible Salmonella contamination according to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. These items were shipped from an Arizona based plant to retail institutions and institutions nationwide.
SNA Meets with Sec. Perdue to Discuss School Meal Programs
SNA’s Wendy Weyer, Lori Adkins and Gay Anderson join Sec. Perdue
at USDA Headquarters.
This week, SNA was invited to participate in a roundtable with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to discuss ways the Department can improve the administration of school meal programs. Representing SNA at the meeting were SNA President Gay Anderson, SNS, President-elect Doug Davis, SNS, At-Large Director Lori Adkins, SNS and Wendy Weyer, SNS, a past Public Policy & Legislation Committee Chair. The group discussed complex and burdensome administrative and reporting requirements and the need to streamline mandates so that school nutrition professionals can focus on feeding students.
In a USDA press release on the event, Sec. Perdue said, “We are looking ahead for more ways to help local operators run world-class school meal programs.” The Secretary added that increasing program efficiency and accountability is a priority for USDA, as it makes the best use of taxpayer dollars.
Representatives of the Council of the Great City Schools, National School Boards Association and The School Superintendents Association also participated in the meeting. USDA plans to meet with other school meal partners in the coming months. Officials also stressed that a final rule on school meal flexibilities is coming soon.
2018-19 Promotion Calendar Available Now!
Fully redesigned, the 2018-19 Promotion Calendar is online now and ready to assist you with your programs. Read More.
SNA Position Paper and Talking Points
Please click here to view the 2019 SNA Position Paper.
Please click here to view Talking Points. The printable version is the first bullet item.
USDA Releases New and Updated School Resources
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has announced several new resources for Team Nutrition. These resources include: an updated Guide to Smart Snacks in School; menu planning tools; ideas for cooking activities for children; and Emergent Reader Mini Books, which are now available in Spanish. Check out young reader eBooks that are now available for download through the USDA website
SNA Survey Reveals Innovative Efforts to Boost Consumption, Curb Waste in School Cafeterias
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD – A national survey of school meal program directors finds school districts are utilizing more tactics - holding student taste tests, locally sourcing produce and scheduling recess before lunch - to increase student consumption of healthy school meals and combat food waste. The findings are part of School Nutrition Association (SNA)’s “School Nutrition Operations Report: The State of School Nutrition 2018,” based on survey responses from 1,550 school districts nationwide.
“School nutrition professionals are determined to find new ways to ensure students enjoy the healthy options available with school meals and benefit from all the nutrients they provide,” said SNA President Gay Anderson, SNS.
School meals meet federal nutrition standards, and schools are working to identify appealing recipes and increase choices for students so they are more likely to eat their meals. Survey results reveal:
- 5% have implemented student taste tests or sampling
- 6% offer salad or produce bars
- Nearly half (48%) of responding districts have schools that have scheduled recess before lunch,a proven strategy for increasing consumption
- 4% currently implement nutrition educationwith another 18.3% planning/considering it
Click on the links for examples from: Wayne County Schools (NY), Carrollton City Schools (GA), Rockwood School District (MO), MSD of Wayne Township (IN)
The survey also reveals widespread efforts to incorporate locally grown foods in school meals and promote these choices to foster healthier eating habits for students. The survey finds:
- 9% of responding districts offer locally sourced fruits and vegetables
- More than half (52.2%) include preferences for local or regional sourcingof foods in solicitations or purchase specifications
- 8% have implemented Farm to Schoolinitiatives, and
- 2% utilize school gardensto promote healthier food choices
Click on the links for examples from: Burlington School District (VT), Riverview School District (WA), Arlington Public Schools (VA), Windham Raymond RSU 14 (ME)
Meanwhile, schools employ a variety of strategies to reduce the amount of food students throw away:
- Nearly two thirds (64.1%) of districts encourage students to share unwanted/unopened food items with their peers through cafeteria share tables
- 3% collect uneaten food to donate to charitable organizations
- 1% are compostingfood waste
Click on the links for examples from: Austin Independent School District (TX), Oceanside Unified (CA), Littleton Public Schools (CO)
The survey also shows significant increases in the use of innovative service models to make healthy school breakfasts more convenient for students. Since 2010, the School Nutrition Foundation and Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom (supported by the Walmart Foundation) have provided more than $11 million to help schools purchase equipment, like kiosks for “breakfast after the bell” programs. The survey findings highlight efforts to extend breakfast service times beyond the first school bell to ensure students have time to access the benefits of school breakfast:
- 1% of districts that offer breakfast provide alternate service venuesin addition to the traditional cafeteria line (up from 46.5% in 2016). Among these districts:
- 9% deliver breakfast directly to the classroomin some schools
- Grab and Go kiosksoutside of the cafeteria have gained in popularity in middle and high schools, with this service option available in 61.8% of districts, up from 56.2% two years ago.
- 4% of districts offering breakfast have schools that serve during the first 10-15 minutesof the school day (up from 33.2% in 2016)
- 9% offer breakfast during a morning break,or “second chance breakfast” (up from 26.8%)
Click the links for examples from: Livingston Parish Public Schools (LA), Charleston County School District (SC), Orange County Public Schools (FL), Park Hill School District (MO)
Schools are offering more options for students with special dietary needs and working with parents to address student food allergies:
- 49% of districts now offer gluten-freefood options (up from 44.5% in 2016)
- 5% offer lactose-free milk(up from 34.1%)
- 5% offer online access to nutrition and allergen information
- 7% report certain foods have been banneddistrictwide due to allergies
- An additional 20.3% report certain foods have been banned in some schools
- Peanuts lead the list of banned foods, followed by tree nuts
Click the links for examples from: Prince William County Schools (VA), Jefferson County Schools (AL), Andover Public Schools (MA), Eastern Carver County Schools (MN)
School meal programs continue to face challenges when students who are not enrolled in the free meal program lack adequate funds to pay for their meals. The survey found widespread unpaid meal debt, even as districts employ multiple proactive tactics to prevent or minimize student meal charges:
- 3% of districts report having unpaid student meal debtat the end of the 2016/17 school year
- 2% report that the number of students without adequate funds increasedlast school year
- Districts with unpaid meal debt utilize the following tactics to support families and prevent or minimize debt:
- online payment/monitoring of account balances (94.2%)
- school staff notify parents directly about low balances or meal charges (85.7%)
- assistance offered to families completing free and reduced-price applications (82.6%)
- automated phone calls, texts or emails for low balance notifications (77.9%)
- financial assistance provided through donations (56.4%)
Click on the links for examples of these tactics from: Garland ISD Student Nutrition Services (TX), Anne Arundel County Public Schools (MD), New Prague Area Schools (MN)
Other notable trends tracked in the report include district demographics, school meal prices, lunch periods, afterschool and summer meals, procurement practices, equipmentand technology.The State of School Nutrition 2018 survey was conducted in May and June 2018. The report is based on the analysis of 1,550 responses received from SNA members representing districts nationwide.
Names Needed for Dietary Guidelines Panel
It's that time again, folks: We're due for another round of Dietary Guidelines. The Trump administration, already months behind in the process, posted Wednesday a call for nominations for the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.
The panel, known as DGAC, will be made up of outside experts who provide "independent, science-based advice and recommendations" to USDA and HHS to help the agencies develop the Dietary Guidelines, which are updated every five years.
The fight over the 2015 installment: The makeup of DGAC will be of intense interest to food and agriculture groups. MA readers will recall that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines were extremely contentious, with nasty public feuds over recommendations for meat and sustainability issues (refresh your memory here).
Brandon Lipps, USDA's acting deputy undersecretary for food, nutrition, and consumer services, said Wednesday he's hoping for a "robust group of nominees" to serve on the panel, and encouraged public involvement. "The public's participation throughout the development of the guidelines is crucial as we work hard to ensure the process is transparent and science-driven," he said.
New territory: The next Dietary Guidelines will cover 2020-25. For the first time, the panel is mandated by law to include dietary advice for women who are pregnant and infants and toddlers from birth to 24 months.
Time is short: USDA says nominations for the committee will be accepted over the next 30 days.
Farm Aid Package to Include NSLP and SBP Commodities Purchasing
As part of a $12 billion farm aid package, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will administer a Food Purchase and Distribution Program to purchase up to $1.2 billion in commodities for nutrition assistance programs, including school lunch and breakfast.
SNA Comments on Proposed NSLP and CACFP Record Collection
SNA provided recommendations to reduce burden, improve efficiency, and increase accuracy for the proposed collection of contact information for schools participating in the NSLP and CACFP. The data collection is to gather contact and other information on a voluntary basis from schools and organizations that participate in the NSLP and CACFP to enter these schools and organizations into the Team Nutrition database.
Appropriations Farm Bill
Senate Passed Farm Bill Ready For Conference Committe
ALL EYES TO CONFERENCE AFTER SENATE FARM BILL PASSES: The Senate's easy passage of the farm bill Thursday gives Ag Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) momentum heading into conference negotiations. The pair, a united front throughout the process, acknowledged as much following the 86-11 vote. "I think the strong vote is very helpful to us and it is not true that I was using tasers on who was going to vote 'no,'" Roberts joked, standing alongside Stabenow as they spoke with reporters outside the Senate floor.
Power couple: Throughout the week, the duo wrangled competing requests from senators angling to get their individual proposals attached to the sweeping farm and nutrition policy legislation. Most significantly, they joined forces to defeat an amendment that would have put in place stricter work requirements on some food stamp recipients than those in the House version. The proposal from Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) would have expanded work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents, as well would have required recipients to show photo I.D. when purchasing groceries using benefits.
SNAP showdown: Although that amendment went down, reconciling different approaches to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program promises to be the biggest challenge facing the conference committee. The House bill would strengthen work requirements on between 5 million and 7 million SNAP recipients — a slice of Speaker Paul Ryan's welfare reform agenda that led to unanimous Democratic opposition when the bill passed last week. Roberts and Stabenow were careful to avoid that hot-button issue, with both leaders saying repeatedly that the House's SNAP proposals would never clear the 60-vote threshold in the upper chamber.
But Roberts suggested that the Senate bill's administrative changes combating fraud in food stamps, among other tweaks to how the program is carried out, have been overshadowed by the SNAP changes in the House bill. He admitted that he should have communicated his ideas more clearly to fellow Republicans. "If you look at what we did, without the backdrop of what the House did, it is terribly significant and is right on the money of getting integrity into the program," he said. "I needed to really talk about that more to my Republican colleagues and, who knows, we could have hit 90 [votes]."
All of the 11 "no" votes came from Republicans: Richard Burr, Bob Corker, Tom Cotton, Jeff Flake, Dean Heller, Jim Inhofe, James Lankford, Ron Johnson, Mike Lee, Rand Paul and Pat Toomey.
What's Next For The Senate Farm Bill
Shortly after the Senate voted to proceed with debate on the farm bill Monday night by a vote of 89-3, Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts told reporters he wants the sweeping agriculture and nutrition legislation to pass before the Fourth of July recess — a sprint that requires ironing out the amendment process,
The path is expected to be much smoother than it was on the House side, where the GOP conference was divided and Democrats refused to support the bill over new work requirements for food stamp recipients. But Roberts also isn't taking any chances, and that means he may try to roll several lingering amendments into a manager's package instead of allowing a large number of issues to erupt on the floor.
Roberts told reporters Monday that no decision has been made on whether to limit amendments. But no matter how the process plays out, a number of senators and interest groups are using this opportunity to push for a long list of changes and additions, ranging from tightening eligibility for farm subsidies to overhauling sugar policy.
White House Releases Government Reorganization Proposal
On Thursday the White House released its plan for reorganizing the federal government, an effort that was announced earlier in June. While the initial announcement suggested that all functions of the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) would be moved to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the plan calls for USDA to “continue to administer the commodity-based programs, including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.” HHS would assume control of other programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
FNS Announced $5.2 Million in Farm to School Grants
The Food and Nutrition Service announced that it is awarding $5.2 million in grants as part of the USDA Farm to School Program.
U.S. House Passes 2018 Farm Bill
The U.S. House 2018 Farm Bill passed the House on Thursday, June 21 by a vote of 213-211. The bill would eliminate Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility which would remove school meal direct certification for an estimated 265,000 students. The bill also contains language directing USDA to revamp the nutrition standards for school lunches, breakfast and all foods sold in schools. SNA has concerns about both provisions and is closely monitoring developments.
FNS Requests for Comment on Revisions to the Child Nutrition Program Operations Study
In a Federal Register notice published on June 13, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) requested public comment on a revision to a currently approved information collection for the Child Nutrition Program Operations Study-II (CN-OPS II). The purpose of the revision is to update the survey instruments for school year (SY) 2018-19 to include topics of current interest and collect timely data to inform Child Nutrition Programs (CNP) operations. Comments must be received on or before August 13, 2018.
Near the bottom of the list are several topics related to the Child Nutrition Programs.
USDA Publishes Semiannual Regulatory Agenda for Spring 2018
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published in the Federal Register its semiannual regulatory agenda, providing summary descriptions of the regulatory and deregulatory actions being developed in agencies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in conformance with a number of Executive orders. The full agency rule list is available at Reginfo.gov, and includes the Interim Rule for child nutrition program flexibilities for milk, whole grains, and sodium requirements released in 2017.
Your Mid-Year Advocacy Update
SNA has been fighting hard for the legislative and policy priorities that ensure adequate funding and reasonable regulations so you can do what you do best – keep kids nourished and ready to learn! Half-way through the year, 2018 school nutrition advocacy shows no signs of slowing. Here’s a quick recap of the exciting progress we’ve made, including new funding, education efforts, and program simplification.
Shortly after the release of the 2018 Position Paper, SNA held its 46th annual Legislative Action Conference, when nearly 900 school nutrition advocates converged in Washington, D.C. But even before they headed to Capitol Hill, attendees got an unexpected boost of support when Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky spoke at the Closing General Session.
#StopTheBlock Efforts and Coalition
SNA recently announced the launch of the Stop the Block Coalition and website, a national network of allied organizations united in working to oppose any school meal block grant proposal. SNA members have been busy sending messages to their legislators, sharing the #StoptheBlock FAQs and infographic, and continuing local education efforts on the detrimental nature of block granting school nutrition programs.
At a time when funding is hard to come by, the inclusion of our critical school nutrition programs is recognition by Congress of the important role our programs play in the lives of hungry children.
- Funding for Training and Equipment
On Friday, March 23, 2018,R. 1625 (115), Congress’ massive FY 2018 spending bill, was signed into law. It includes $2 million for training school food service personnel. The bill also provides $30 million in Equipment Grants.
- FY2019 Appropriations Bills
Congress is currently debating FY 2019 funding, and SNA is excited to report that the House and Senate bills contain several school nutrition prioritiesincluding $20 million for school breakfast commodities. This marks the first critical step in a multi-step legislative process.
Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Regulatory Reform Federal Register notice was posted on June 17, 2017, SNA has been collecting comments from members about how best to simplify school nutrition program regulations. Every submission was reviewed and suggestions were provided to USDA through letters submitted in September and November. The final letter is due in July and your suggestions can still be submitted in this SNA form!
SNA has provided comments to USDA in response to several proposed rules, studies and notices, including; the Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains and SodiumProposed Rule, Hiring Flexibilities Proposed Rule, and Dietary Guidelines for Americans Topics suggestions.
SNA provides regular updates on trending unpaid meal legislation in state legislatures through Quarterly State Legislation Reports and Tuesday Morning, and provides unpaid meal charge talking points to assist members in responding to questions. SNA is also offering a “Managing Unpaid Meal Charges” education session at the 2018 Annual National Conference. A panel of school nutrition directors and USDA will discuss different policies and best practices from districts across the country to help you assess what approaches may work best for your school community. Stay tuned for the release of a case study showcasing successful strategies to advocate for sensible unpaid meal policy.
Proposed Plan to Reorganize
There is a plan PROPOSED by the Heritage Foundation to the White House that the school meals programs and SNAP be moved to Health and Human Service(HHS) away from USDA. That would move us away from Agriculture which is a strong supporter of our programs because of our link to the Commodities Program based at USDA.
Trump Administration’s Proposed Re-Organization Would Move Nutrition Programs to HHS
Last Wednesday White House officials revealed that the administration will release a plan to reorganize the federal government that includes moving the functions of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
20 Million For School Breakfast Commodities is in This Bill So Far
Senate Farm Bill Released, Mark Up Scheduled for This Week
The Senate Agriculture Committee released the 2018 Senate Farm Bill and announced that a markup has been scheduled for Wednesday, June 13th. Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) released a joint statement touting their efforts to craft a bill that could garner bipartisan support. This stands in stark contrast to developments in the U.S. House, where a partisan Farm Bill featuring drastic changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) failed amid opposition from conservative Republicans. SNA will continue closely monitoring developments on the Farm Bill in Congress.
FNS Details Child Nutrition Program Flexibilities for the Upcoming School Year
In a memo published on June 1, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) summarized the flexibilities provided to Child Nutrition Program (CNP) operators in School Year (SY) 2018-2019 for milk, whole grains, and sodium requirements.
- State Agencies may use their discretion to grant whole grain waivers for School Food Authorities that can demonstrate hardship.
- Sodium Target 1 will continue as the regulatory limit for breakfast and lunch programs.
- Operators in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP) will have the option to offer flavored, low-fat (1 percent fat) milk as part of a reimbursable meal or competitive food sale.
These flexibilities will be effective July 1, 2018 and are consistent with the Interim Final Rule published on November 30th, 2017. SNA submitted comments in response to the Interim Final Rule, thanking USDA for the temporary flexibilities and requesting permanent relief.
(Click Title Link Above)
So far both the House and the Senate Appropriations Committees have passed bills that include SNA's requests. See below.
U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Approves $20M for SBP Commodities and More
The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY2019 Agriculture Appropriations bill on Thursday, May 24th with a unanimous roll call vote. As with the recently passed U.S. House Appropriations bill, SNA was also successful in getting a number of its legislative priorities included in this Senate version. While both the House and Senate bills still have a number of steps to go, SNA is excited to see potential additional funding and program simplification gain ground.
The Senate bill includes $20 million for School Breakfast Program commodities. It also requires that no funds may be used to implement Target 2 sodium levels, and appropriates $30,000,000 for competitive grants to State agencies for subgrants to local educational agencies and schools to purchase equipment.
The committee report that accompanied the bill contained two provisions supported by SNA. The first encourages the Secretary of Agriculture to return to a 5-year Administrative Review inspection cycle for schools found to be consistently complying with Federal regulations. The second encourages USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service to simplify the whole grain waiver process to make it faster and more user-friendly for SFAs.
Announcing the #Stoptheblock Coalition
When one in every six children suffer from hunger in the United States, millions of American school children could lose access to meals served through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) if some Members of Congress get their way.
This is why SNA has launched the Stop the Block Coalition and website (stopblockgrantsnow.org). The Coalition, comprised of a network of allied organizations across the nation, will advocate against Block Grants for school nutrition programs and urge Congress to live up to its commitment to American children at risk of hunger. SNA is currently working to enlist coalition members.
Individuals are encouraged to join the fight by sending a letter to their legislators, sharing the #StoptheBlock FAQs and infographic on social media, and continuing local education efforts on the detrimental nature of block granting school nutrition programs.
U.S. House Appropriations Committee Approves $20 Million for SBP Commodities
The full House Appropriations Committee approved the FY2019 Agriculture Appropriations Bill on Wednesday, May 16th on a vote of 31-20. SNA was successful in getting two of its legislative priorities included in the bill language that the Committee approved. This marks the first critical step in the multi-step legislative process.
SNA is excited to report that the appropriations bill includes $20 million for School Breakfast Program commodities. Further, SNA was also able to secure December 31, 2018 as the deadline to make a determination under Paid Lunch Equity provisions for the 2019-2020 school year. This will provide schools with a good grasp of meal prices well in advance of the next school year and will help in determining any potential future lunch price increases.
At the hearing on Wednesday, the Committee also approved two amendments that impact school nutrition programs. The first eliminates restrictions on the inclusion of starchy vegetables in School Breakfast Program meals. The second directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary to issue recommended standards schools may adopt for unpaid meal policy. The U.S. Senate has yet to release a FY2019 Agriculture Appropriations bill. Both chambers must agree on a single version before it is sent to the President to be signed into law.
05.08.2018 Child Nutrition Programs: Income Eligibility Guidelines
In a Federal Register Notice published on May 8, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced the Department’s annual adjustments to the Income Eligibility Guidelines to be used in determining eligibility for free and reduced price meals and free milk for the period from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019. The adjustments are required by section 9 of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to account for changes in the Consumer Price Index.
Republican Study Committee Proposes School Meal Block Grant
The Republican Study Committee has released their 2019 budget plan which proposes to "consolidate funding for child nutrition programs into a single block grant." Read More
Focus School Lunch Subsidies for Those Who Actually Need Them
The RSC proposes to consolidate funding for child nutrition programs into a single block grant. This would include funding for the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, Summer Food Service Program, and Special Milk Program. The block grant would give states control over where best they believe these funds overall should be allocated. This model is designed to encourage states to administer the consolidated grant funds efficiently and reduce any redundancies and deviations from promoting child nutrition among truly needy families.
One instance of deviating from the goal of benefiting truly needy families occurs in both the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. These programs are known for providing free and reduced meals at school to children from low-income families. Schools receive up to $3.33 for each free lunch served to children under 130 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL), $2.93 for each reduced-price lunch served to children between 130 percent and 185 percent of the FPL, $2.04 for free breakfasts, $1.74 for reduced price breakfasts, $.86 for free afterschool snacks, and $.43 for reduced price afterschool snacks.194 Schools also receive commodities with a value of $.23 for each lunch served and can receive an additional $.06 for each lunch if they comply with certain nutritional guidelines.195
However, the School Lunch and Breakfast Programs also provide subsidies for “Full Price” meals served to those from families above 185 of the FPL. According to CBO, “in the 2016–2017 school year, federal subsidies are generally 59 cents for each lunch, 29 cents for each breakfast, and 7 cents for each snack”.196 Many conservatives may believe these subsidies, which average about $1 billion annually over the next decade, for those with the means to otherwise pay their own way are out of line with what the goals of the program should be.
Further, the “school lunch and breakfast programs are subject to widespread fraud and abuse.”197 According to the GAO, the estimated improper payment rates for the Lunch and Breakfast Programs in FY 2013 totaled 15.7 and 25.3 percent, respectively.198 States in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture must take steps to address this problem.
Income Eligibility Guidelines starting July 1, 2018
This notice announces the Department’s annual adjustments to the Income Eligibility Guidelines to be used in determining eligibility for free and reduced price meals and free milk for the period from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019. These guidelines are used by schools, institutions, and facilities participating in the National School Lunch Program (and Commodity School Program), School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program for Children, Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program. The annual adjustments are required by section 9 of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act. The guidelines are intended to direct benefits to those children most in need and are revised annually to account for changes in the Consumer Price Index. DATES: Implementation Date: July 1, 2018
USDA FNS Releases Final Rule on Processing Donated Foods
The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has issued a Final Rule on Revisions and Clarifications in Requirements for the Processing of Donated Foods. It is effective July 2, 2018.
The rule requires multi-State processors to enter into National Processing Agreements to process donated foods into end products, permits processors to substitute commercially purchased beef and pork of U.S. origin and of equal or better quality for donated beef and pork, and streamlines and modernizes oversight of inventories of donated foods at processors. The rule also revises regulatory provisions in plain language, to make them easier to read and understand.
Conservative Leaders Present Farm Bill Ideas
The Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative House Republicans, released its own fiscal 2019 budget plan, including a farm bill proposal containing a lengthy section on entitlement programs. The proposal seeks to promote cost-savings by splitting the nutrition and farm policy titles into separate legislation. House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway has indicated he wants to debate the farm bill on the floor as soon as possible in May.
USDA FNS Announces PLE Guidance for SY 2018-19
As part of FY 2018 spending bill, Congress provided that only school food authorities (SFAs) with a negative balance in their school food service account as of January 31, 2018 will be required to raise prices for paid lunches under the Paid Lunch Equity (PLE) provisions in the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act.
U.S. House Agriculture Committee Approves Farm Bill
The U.S. House Agriculture Committee held a mark-up of the 2018 Farm Bill on Wednesday, April 18. Among other provisions, Title 4 of the bill legislates nutrition programs such as SNAP and National School Lunch Commodities. The five-hour discussion on Wednesday centered around changes to SNAP, including new work requirements and elimination of Broad-Based Categorical Eligibility, which may impact school nutrition program direct certification in some states.
According to a Center on Budget Policy and Priorities report, the Congressional Budget Office has indicated that 265,000 students will be impacted by the elimination of Categorical Eligibility and resulting loss of access to SNAP. No longer directly certified through SNAP, parents of these students will be required to complete an application and reestablish access to free school meals.
The bill passed Committee by a vote of 26-20. Committee Chairman, Rep. Mike Conaway, stated that he plans to bring the bill to the House floor in May for a full vote. The farm bill covers five years of funding and policy changes and is due for reauthorization in 2019. SNA continues to monitor progress on the bill and urge House and Senate Agriculture Committee members to push for an expansion of USDA Foods to support the School Breakfast Program as part of the bill.
U.S. House Appropriations Agriculture FY2019 Budget Hearing
Secretary Sonny Perdue provided testimony during the April 18th U.S. House Committee on Appropriations FY2019 USDA Budget hearing. In his opening statements, Chairman Robert Aderholt thanked the USDA for providing schools with “long-overdue flexibility” and encouraged issuance of the Final Rule.
Buy American Bill Introduced in Senate
Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) introduced S. 2641, The American Food for American Schools Act of 2018, on April 10, 2018.
U.S. House Unveils Farm Bill Proposal
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) released his draft Farm Bill proposal last week signaling the beginning of efforts to renew farm and food policy legislation. The farm bill, which is due for reauthorization in 2019, covers five years of funding and policy changes in matters involving USDA. SNA continues to monitor progress on the bill and to urge House and Senate Agriculture Committee members to push for an expansion of USDA Foods to support the School Breakfast Program as part of the bill. Learn More.
USDA Expands Focus on Program Integrity Across All Nutrition Programs
WASHINGTON, March 29, 2018 – As part of Agriculture Secretary Perdue’s strategic goal of ensuring that our programs are delivered efficiently, effectively and with integrity, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced an enhanced focus on program integrity today, that will include renewed attention on transparency, payment accuracy, fraud and waste prevention, and improved quality control.
“Where protection of taxpayer dollars is concerned – the job is never done,” said Acting Deputy Under Secretary for USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, Brandon Lipps. “Today we are renewing our commitment to ensuring that our nutrition programs are run as effectively and efficiently as possible; increasing program integrity while maintaining the nutrition safety net for those truly in need.”
To kick-off this renewed commitment, Acting Deputy Under Secretary Lipps announced today his intention to create a new position of Chief Integrity Officer to manage oversight, improvements, and overall integrity strategy. This position will be located in the Office of the Administrator at FNS and will be tasked with overseeing integrity initiatives in all 15 federal feeding programs administered by FNS.
In addition, FNS has initiated an independent, third-party review of its integrity efforts across the agency’s nutrition programs. This comprehensive review will support the identification of improvements to the process currently in place, as well as explore the implementation of promising practices across government and the private sector.
“Integrity is essential to meeting the mission of all FNS nutrition programs, now and into the future. we will continue to improve operations and outcomes in close collaboration with its state and local partners to combat waste, fraud, and abuse and best serve our participants and American taxpayers,” said Lipps.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) administers 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which together comprise America's nutrition safety net.
USDA Budget Breakdown
Our friends on the Budget and Appropriations team are combing through all 2,232 pages of the massive spending bill signed into law last week. USDA and FDA programs will receive about $23.3 billion in discretionary spending through September under H.R. 1625 (115),about $2.4 billion more than fiscal 2017 enacted levels despite the Trump administration's calls for cuts.
Here are 2 key USDA program highlights that pertain to the Child Nutrition Programs:
- Child nutrition programs, a mandatory funding program that supports free and reduced-price meals to low-income school children, gets $24.25 million, matching the Trump request and about $2 million more than current levels. This helps pay for about 30.6 million school lunches and 15.7 million school breakfasts every day, according to the USDA.
- Commodity assistance programs, which help fund soup kitchens, food banks, farmer's market, nutrition programs and other emergency assistance programs, are slated for $322.1 million over two years. That's above the $294 million in Trump's request and current levels of $313 million.
New Funding for Nutrition Programs in Omnibus Spending Bill
On Friday, March 23, 2018, President Trump signed H.R. 1625 (115), otherwise known as Congress’ massive fiscal year 2018 spending bill. The over 2,000-page, $1.3 trillion dollar bill was introduced in the House on Wednesday night and passed on Thursday in a 256-167 vote, then went to the Senate where it was passed on Friday morning on a 65-32 vote. The bill needed to be signed into law before midnight on Friday to avoid a government shutdown.
The massive funding bill included $2 million for training school food service personnel. The funds may be accessed by a professional organization, such as SNA, to develop a training program for school nutrition personnel that focuses on school food service meal preparation and workforce development. The bill also provides $30 million for competitive grants to State agencies for sub grants to local educational agencies and schools to purchase equipment with a value of at least $1,000. The grants may be used to facilitate serving healthier meals, improve food safety, and to help support the establishment, maintenance, or expansion of school breakfast. In addition, the Omnibus bill included $5 million in funding for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program, which doubles current available funding.
At a time when funding is hard to come by, the inclusion of our critical school nutrition programs is a recognition by Congress of the important role our programs play in the lives of hungry children.
Food Delivery to Schools
Learn how to combat the growing competition between your school nutrition program and food delivery services.
School Meal Block Grants
February 1, 2018
School meal block grants are the biggest threat to school nutrition programs today. Loss of entitlement funding, six cent certification, paid meal reimbursements, and adjustments for inflation would be detrimental to the overall well-being and academic success of students. Under a block grant, schools are forced to let students go hungry or make up the difference at the expense of academics. Program expansion becomes a liability. Natural disasters and economic recessions leave vulnerable populations without.
What does this mean for your school and your students?
Use SNA's Block Grant Calculator to see an estimate of funding cuts to your school nutrition program.
1. Complete the green fields.
2. Part one shows immediate loss of funds to your program.
3. Part two shows percent decrease in funds over three years.
4. Part three shows the cumulative losses over three years.
What can you do?
Print your results and share them with interested stakeholders. These include:
- Your state and federal legislators! Those attending SNA's 2018 Legislative Action Conference should bring their results with them to their appointments on the Hill.
- Your school board and superintendents who, like you, are invested in the wellbeing and academic achievement of their students.
- Attach SNA's block grant flyer for those who may need more information.
- Keep SNA in the loop on your efforts to preserve school meal funding. Contact us at email@example.com if you have any questions.
SNA Submits Comment on USDA School Meal Rule
On Friday, January 19, SNA submitted an official comment to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in response to the interim final rule on "Child Nutrition Programs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains and Sodium," published in the Federal Register on November 30, 2017. In the comment, SNA expressed appreciation for the Department’s efforts to address the challenges school districts have confronted in transitioning to updated meal pattern requirements. SNA also reminded USDA that school districts are looking forward to a permanent solution eliminating the onerous management of temporary rules and, where allowed, annual waivers. You can read the complete comment here.
Label our MdSNA response to Interim Regs.
Reg Comments Doc
USDA Foods Available List for SY 2018-19 Published
On December 15, 2017, USDA FNS published the SY 2018-19 USDA Foods Available List for Schools and Institutions. USDA works to introduce new products and reformulate items every year based on feedback from states and school districts; this year, they included ten new products for ordering. Those new products include: frozen mixed berry cups; frozen mixed vegetables; chicken drumsticks; grilled chicken breast fillets; pre-sliced turkey ham and smoked turkey; egg patty rounds; and white whole wheat flour. More information about the new offerings can be found in the product preview sheets. New feedback or new product ideas can always be submitted to USDAFoods@fns.usda.gov.
New Year's Resolution: Recognize a Colleague!
Do you know a stellar kitchen manager, outstanding cook, or inspiring school nutrition director in your school district? Nominate them for a national SNA Member Award and show them how much you appreciate their hard work!
Each year the national SNA awards are presented at the Annual National Conference (ANC), where thousands will learn of the achievements of the winners.
Nominees must hold an SNA Certificate or the SNS Credential. SNA is currently accepting nominations online for the:
Nominations are due online or to the State President by March 1, 2018.
Word documents are available for each award to make it easy for you to gather your thoughts and prepare your nomination in advance.
For more information visit www.schoolnutrition.org/SNAawards or contact StateSupport@schoolnutrition.org
SNA Comments on USDA School Meal Rule
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner
SNA Comments on USDA School Meal Rule
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released an interim final rule to extend current regulatory flexibility for school meal programs through School Year (SY) 2018-19. The non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) commended USDA for the extension and has called for even greater flexibility under whole grain and sodium mandates to address challenges while maintaining strong standards to benefit students. SNA is assembling a member working group to develop detailed recommendations to improve a final rule.
The interim rule maintains Target 1 sodium limits for school meals, and USDA “anticipates” extending this deadline through SY 2020-21. States can continue to offer waivers to schools demonstrating hardship in procuring or preparing specific whole grain rich foods that are acceptable to students (eg whole grain tortillas or brown rice). Finally, the rule provides schools the option to offer flavored 1% milk. USDA requests public comment on the interim rule and the sodium reduction timeline to inform the development of a final rule, effective in SY 2019-20.
A recent SNA survey of school meal programs across the country, detailed below, demonstrated the need for increased flexibility under the rules. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) and USDA have also cited significant challenges under updated standards with student acceptance, food waste, product availability and participation - more than one million fewer students choose school lunch each day under the updated nutrition standards. To address these challenges, SNA has advocated to restore the initial requirement that at least half of grains offered with school meals be whole grain rich and to maintain the Target 1 sodium levels permanently.
“School nutrition professionals have achieved tremendous progress, modifying recipes, hosting student taste tests and employing a wide range of other tactics to meet regulations while also encouraging students to enjoy healthier school meals,” said SNA President Lynn Harvey, Ed.D., RDN, LDN, FAND, SNS. "Despite these efforts, school nutrition professionals continue to report challenges with sodium and whole grain mandates, as well as limited access to whole grain waivers. SNA appreciates USDA’s desire to address challenges and will provide comment on how to improve a final rule to support the preparation of healthy school meals that appeal to students.”
SNA’s 2017 School Nutrition Trends Report examined the positive efforts of schools to meet nutrition mandates while demonstrating the need for increased flexibility under the nutrition standards:
School nutrition professionals are working to increase student acceptance of whole grain foods required in school meals. Among responding districts:
- White wheat flour is utilized by 80% to give whole grain foods a lighter appearance
- 70% have conducted student taste tests to promote whole grain options and gather student feedback
- 39% helped students adjust by gradually increasing the amount of whole wheat flour in recipes
Despite these proactive steps, 65% of responding districts report challenges with the current mandate that all grains offered with school meals be whole grain rich; 22% of responding districts note a “significant challenge”
- Among districts reporting difficulties, 96% cite challenges with student acceptance and more than half (54%) note the higher cost of whole grains.
- When asked to identify which whole grain food is most troublesome, pasta or noodleswas the top concern, named by nearly half of these districts.
- Nearly one-third of respondents have obtained a whole grain waiver. An additional 19% indicate they would like to acquire a waiver, but nearly 50% of these respondents feel there are barriers to applying for or receiving a waiver.
Schools reported employing a wide range of tactics to meet sodium limits for school meals. Notably:
- 73% of responding districts have reformulated recipes
- Increased scratch preparation of foods was cited by 61%
- 57% have limited the service of condiments
- One-third have reduced portion sizes
Despite these efforts, schools nationwide express concerns about sodium limits:
- 92% of responding school districts are concerned about the availability of foods that will meet future sodium limits and are well accepted by students; 58% of respondents report they are “very concerned.”
- 88% face challenges with student acceptance or familiarity of reduced sodium foods.
- A large majority of respondents also cite challenges with naturally occurring sodium in foods such as milk, low-fat cheese and meat; product or ingredient availability; and sodium levels in condiments.
USDA Locks In School Nutrition Tweaks
The Department of Agriculture on Wednesday released an interim final rule that will cement changes to school meals that Perdue announced in May. The measure, which goes into effect for the 2018-19 school year, will stave off stricter sodium restrictions that were set to kick in last summer and locks in flexibility that Perdue has provided to schools that are having a hard time meeting the whole-grain standards. It also will give schools the option to serve 1-percent flavored milk. Previously, non-fat flavored milk and low-fat milk were permitted as part of the nutrition standards.
SNA is pumped: The School Nutrition Association lauded the increased flexibility districts are being given to meet the standards, citing continued challenges at schools across the country.
"School nutrition professionals have achieved tremendous progress, modifying recipes, hosting student taste-tests and employing a wide range of other tactics to meet regulations while also encouraging students to enjoy healthier school meals," Lynn Harvey, SNA president, said in a statement. "Despite these efforts, school nutrition professionals continue to report challenges with sodium and whole grain mandates, as well as limited access to whole grain waivers."
About those challenges: The group cited recent survey data from its members that found 65 percent of districts still have trouble with the requirement to serve only whole-grain-rich products. The survey also found that 92 percent of responding districts were concerned about the availability of foods that would meet future sodium limits and also be "well accepted by students."
Chocolate milk side note: SNA didn't lobby for the changes to the dairy rules, which will make it easier to get chocolate and strawberry low-fat milk onto lunch trays. That was the work of the dairy industry.
Health advocates are not pleased: Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and many other advocates condemned USDA's move. "The proposal is a hammer in search of a nail," Wootan said in a statement. "Virtually 100 percent of schools are already complying with the final nutrition standards, including the first phase of sodium reduction."
Reality check: Despite what headlines have suggested, the changes to the nutrition standards are relatively modest. They leave in place most of the standards championed by former first lady Michelle Obama under the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.