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SNF Equipment Grants for 2021 are Now Open!

October 10, 2020

The School Nutrition Foundation is teaming up with industry partners to provide new kitchen equipment to deserving districts! Apply now for the 2021 SNF Equipment Grant Program, featuring applications for not one but FOUR grants!Learn More

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Countdown to National School Lunch Week!

October 9, 2020

National School Lunch Week, October 12-16, is right around the corner! Whatever may be #nowplaying in your school lunch program, there are many levels in which you can participate, and many reasons why you should. Learn More
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October is National Farm to School Month!

October 9, 2020

This year's National Farm to School Month is about expressing gratitude to those who help provide nutritious meals to students, including farmers, harvesters, distributors, school nutrition professionals, garden coordinators, and bus driversNominate a Community Food Champion or check out other Farm to School resources to get involved locally!
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National School Lunch Week

October 9, 2020

President Kennedy created National School Lunch Week in 1962—58 years ago! Today, NSLW serves more than 30 million children every school day. Join us in celebrating next week by sharing what you have planned for #NSLW20 and you could be featured in an upcoming issue of School Nutrition

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COVID-19 Safety & Sanitation: Beginning Again

October 9, 2020

Chef Cyndie Story (Ph.D, RDN, CC, SNS) & Dr. Beverly Girard (Ph.D, MBA, RD, SNS), Culinary Solution Centers, LLC, will share best practices to incorporate into health guidance for staff, maintaining time/temp controls for meals and creating cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting protocols. View full conference agenda.
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A Pediatrician’s Perspective: School Meals & Student Health

October 9, 2020

Dr. Robert Murray, Professor at Ohio State University and representative for the American Academy of Pediatrics, will share information on the importance of school meals and an outlook on student health. View full conference agenda.
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Tout Your School Nutrition Team Efforts for a Chance to Win

October 9, 2020

SNA is now accepting submissions for the "School Meal Program Pride" contest! Help SNA recognize school teams for continuing to keep students happy, healthy and fed this fall. We'll feature examples on TrayTalk.org and SNA's social media channels. One randomly selected submission will win $200 credit for the SNA Shop! Enter now through Oct 16.

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Apply Today for a SNF Equipment Grant

October 9, 2020

New this year, eligible applicants have the opportunity to win one of four equipment grants! These four grants are the Winston Equipment Grant, the Vulcan Equipment Grant, the Hobart Equipment Grant, and the Collection Grant. SNF is now accepting applications for the SNF Equipment Grants. If your kitchen needs new equipment, consider applying today! 
 
In order to apply you must be an active-director level member for a minimum of one year and must be responsible for directing the school nutrition program of the school district. The application period began October 1st, 2020 and will end on January 31st, 2021 at 11:59 PM EST. 
 
To apply, visit the SNF website to find out which equipment grant is the right fit for you. Then, fill out an application with basic information about your district.
 
For questions, please contact scholarships@schoolnutrition.org
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Ice Cream Truck Music Draws Students to School Meals

October 9, 2020

A Texas school district has increased participation in its meal delivery program to 2,300 students from 800 after modeling its delivery after an ice cream truck. The bus has a speaker that plays music associated with an ice cream truck.
Full Story: 
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US Senate Passes Funding and Extends USDA Authority to Grant Waivers

October 5, 2020

On September 30th, the U.S. Senate passed H.R.8337, Continuing Appropriations Act 2021, a short-term funding bill that provides $1.4 trillion in continuing FY2021 appropriations for Federal agencies through December 11, 2020. This bill also extends the U.S. Department of Agriculture's authority to issue and extend nationwide child nutrition waivers until September 20, 2021. USDA's authority was first granted back in March under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. President Trump has signed the bill into law.
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House Includes Nutrition Programs In Revised Relief Bill

October 4, 2020

Democrats in the US House released a $2.2 trillion revised HEROES Act bill Monday that includes more money for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and other nutrition programs. The proposal, $1.2 trillion less than the HEROES Act passed by the House in the spring, provides $10 billion for SNAP, $400 million for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children program, $450 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program, and more than $1 billion in additional nutrition assistance monies for Full Story: The Fence Post (Colorado-Nebraska)/Hagstrom Report (9/29),  The Hill (9/28) 

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Oregon to Provide Meal Funds to Families

October 4, 2020

Oregon's education and human services departments recently announced direct payments to help compensate families for the cost of meals students would have received at school during coronavirus-related closures. More than 300,000 students are eligible for the Pandemic EBT -- or electronic benefits transfer -- payments of $100 or more, which are part of the state's plan to transition students back to school, said Dan Haun of the state's department of human services.
Full Story: Oregon Public Broadcasting (9/29) 
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Mastering Marketing in the Time of COVID-19

October 4, 2020

School Nutrition magazine continues its series of COVID-19 digital supplements with the seventh article in the series. “Time to Mobilize Your Marketing” offers peer-to-peer advice about prioritizing messages and using different tactics to their best effect. Read the Digital Edition
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Danielle Duran Baron Joins SNA Staff as SVP of Marketing & Communications

October 4, 2020

An experienced association executive, Danielle brings a full scope of strategic, operational, and team leadership experiences to her role at SNA. Read More 
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Superhero

Membership!

MdSNA thanks you for all you have been doing throughout this pandemic to support the nutrition of Maryland's children. 

We thank Maryland's superheroes for your perseverance and dedication this year. Your commitment and level of service is always appreciated. We extend the gift of a free annual MdSNA membership to all new and current members, effective January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021.

Recipients must complete acknowledgment form to receive this gift. 

Click here to accept this gift.

Tell your friends, and don't miss this one-time, unprecedented opportunity.
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USDA Publishes SFSP Reimbursement Waiver and Q&A on SFSP/SSO

September 16, 2020

On September 11, 2020, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) released an SFSP reimbursement waiver and Q&A on SFSP/SSP. Read More
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Clarification on NSLP-SBP Meal Pattern Rules for SY 2020-21

September 16, 2020

SNA continues to receive inquiries regarding meal pattern requirements for school meal programs operating the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs (NSLP/SBP). In April 2020, a  federal district court ruling struck down USDA’s  2018 final rule, Child Nutrition Programs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements. The ruling eliminated NSLP/SBP meal pattern flexibilities, reverting back to the 2012 meal patterns for grades K-12, which required flavored milk to be fat-free; all grains to be whole-grain rich; and school lunches and breakfasts to meet sodium target 2.
However, USDA’s  COVID–19: Nationwide Waiver to Allow Meal Pattern Flexibility in the Child Nutrition Programs waived for all states the requirement to serve meals that meet the meal patterns during school year 2020-21. USDA is allowing school meal programs to use this meal pattern flexibility if they cannot meet the 2012 meal pattern requirements. In the August 21, 2020 FNS document,  Questions and Answers for the Child Nutrition Programs during School Year 2020-2021 – #5, FNS addresses the issue on pages 5 and 6. School nutrition professionals operating NSLP/SBP should contact their State agencies for more information on the waiver process. 
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Meatpacking Fines - Smithfield

September 14, 2020

MORE MEATPACKING FINES: Worker safety regulators on Friday night issued a roughly $15,000 fine against JBS for failing to protect employees from Covid-19 at the Brazilian-owned company’s slaughterhouse in Greeley, Colo. It’s the second financial penalty against a major meatpacker, after Smithfield Foods was dinged $13,500 for safety shortfalls at a South Dakota plant — but critics say the fines are so modest that they won’t be an effective deterrent, the Washington Post reports.
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Please Take SNA's Back to School During COVID-19 Survey

September 11, 2020

As part of SNA’s ongoing advocacy for SNA members, students and school meal programs, SNA is conducting this survey to capture the most current data on how school nutrition programs are returning to school for SY 2020/21. Please participate in this brief survey to assist in our efforts to advocate for school nutrition programs across the country.
 
You received an email from The School Nutrition Association this morning around 10 AM EST with a unique link to take the survey. We encourage you to participate in this brief survey to assist in our efforts to advocate for school nutrition programs across the country.
 
Finally, all who complete the survey will be entered into a drawing for one free registration to SNA’s Directors’ Best Practices Conference this October! 
 
Please complete the survey today!
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Share the National School Lunch Week 2020 Infographic

September 11, 2020

The one-page "Now Playing: School Lunch!" infographic contains key information for parents about the school lunch program and the healthy options available. Download the PDF in English or Spanish and make copies to hand out or share the digital version online.
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Register Now for the Virtual Directors' Best Practices Conference

September 11, 2020

Hear the best ideas to feed kids during a pandemic, learn what's working and what's not, discuss financial sustainability and collectively brainstorm solutions to complex challenges in this one-of-a-kind conference taking place on the three afternoons of Oct. 26 to 28. Learn more.
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Join Us for Week 6 of the Innovative Solutions Showcase!

September 11, 2020

Next week on Monday and Tuesday our industry partners are previewing four exciting new products for the upcoming school year in the Innovation Solutions Showcase. We hope you can join us for this virtual opportunity to connect with representatives and ask questions. 
 
Register now for next week’s sessions. After registering, you’ll receive a unique participation link to access the sessions via Zoom. No need to register each week. The unique link in your confirmation can be used each week through the end of October! 
 
Next week’s sessions feature the following companies:
 
  • National Peanut Board—Be ready to meet the huge increase in demand for peanut butter and have solutions if your favorite pre-packaged items are unavailable. 
  • Foster Farms—Learn about Bold Bites—individually wrapped serving sizes of fully cooked chicken that are perfect for snacking or making an individually portioned meal. 
  • Uncle Ben’s—Preview 3 easy-to-prep and kid-approved dishes perfect for grab-and-go and modular kitchen spaces with rice preparation tips. 
  • LINQ Nutrition—Learn how this online ordering solution allows students and staff to easily order full meals or ala carte items while maintaining social distancing. 
 The Showcase uses the Zoom platform and starts at 1 pm EDT. Each session is 30 minutes. Please note that sessions are subject to change.
 
But wait, there’s more! On each day of the Showcase, we are giving away a FREE registration to the virtual Fall Directors Best Practices Conference in October to one lucky attendee who attends all the sessions for that day. Sweepstakes Rules can be found here. 

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New App & Tool for Families to Find School Meal

September 11, 2020

Thank you for your tremendous efforts to support your school community, and especially students through this time of great need. As we work together to navigate the 2020-21 school year, we continue to champion your important work and engage with partners who may bring incremental support for school nutrition programs nationwide.
 
As this school year is anything but traditional, to help families know when/how their children may access school meals, our partner GENYOUth, in collaboration with SAP, is asking for your help to ensure that school feeding site information in the SAP4Kids Resource Locator Map is current and accurate. You may enter your information here, and we’ve made recent improvements to the platform to make data entry easier for you! 
 
In addition, there are a few new features which include: 
  • Automatic notifications when the data you’ve entered is about to expire.  
  • An app version of SAP4Kids (available through Apple’s app store) 
 
If you have questions about this resource, please contact Courtney Dubin at GENYOUthNow. 
 
Thank you for your herculean work. We’re grateful for all that you do and thankful for your time in sharing this information that will be invaluable in supporting our school communities. You can find more resources from SNA’s allied partners in the COVID-19 section of our website. 
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Analysis: Most Districts Offer Remote Learning

September 9, 2020

Ninety-five percent of school districts plan to reopen with remote learning, with most of these sites also offering in-person and hybrid options, according to an analysis by EdSurge/Social Context Labs. Data shows that students in rural districts are more likely offered in-person instruction or choice.
 Full Story: EdSurge (9/4)  

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Open Call For Education Proposals: Share Your Ideas - Deadline Extended!

September 5, 2020

During this unprecedented time for school nutrition, SNA members are eager for best practices, ideas and information to serve students in virtual, blended and staggered academic schedules. 
 
We invite you to share your knowledge and submit a proposal for an Annual National Conference (ANC) education session, upcoming webinar or virtual conference. While we’ve extended the typical deadline until January 4, 2021—innovators with expert knowledge and creative new practices to share are encouraged to submit proposals through a new rolling process in order to be considered for ANC and for upcoming virtual training, webinars and more. 
 
Visit www.schoolnutrition.org/CFP for details. All proposals must be submitted by January 4, 2021. SNA will be in touch by March 1, 2021 to confirm the status of your session for ANC 2021, or sooner for additional opportunities.  
 
Don’t delay—submit your proposal today!
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Now Playing: School Lunch!

September 5, 2020

Now more than ever, it is vital to communicate how important safe, nutritious and healthy school meals are in fueling student success. Taking part in National School Lunch Week (Oct. 12 to 16), at whatever level your program can participate, helps increase participation, spread the message that school meals remain safe and nutritious, and infuses your program with a little fun and excitement to engage students and stakeholders. Visit the NSLW site for educational materials and head to the SNA NSLW Shop for lunch week gear to get in the spirit.

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Register Now For SNA's Innovative Solutions Showcase - Extended Through October!

September 5, 2020

As a school nutrition professional, are you wondering how you will determine what new products, service or equipment you will need for the upcoming school year -- or perhaps even during the summer as you continue to feed kids during this pandemic? If so, don't miss this opportunity to participate in up to six industry presentations per week through SNA's New Innovative Solutions Showcase. Registration is FREE for SNA members! Learn more.
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USDA Highlights 4 Steps For Food Safety At Home

September 5, 2020

The Food and Safety and Inspection Service of the USDA is kicking off National Food Safety Month by stressing four key food-handling steps that can stop foodborne illnesses. Following the Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill guidelines will help consumers "adopt and practice safe food handling behaviors in their own homes," said Mindy Brashears, undersecretary for food safety.

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Legionella Poses Risk At Some Reopened Schools

September 5, 2020

Experts say students returning to school buildings that have been closed because of the coronavirus pandemic could be at risk for another respiratory illness -- Legionnaires' disease. Testing at schools in Pennsylvania and Ohio has shown traces of Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' disease, in some buildings after water supplies have been dormant for months.
Full Story: CBS News (8/31) 

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Share The New Flyer - School Meals Are Safe And Nutritios

September 1, 2020

This new flyer, available on the SNA website in the COVID-19 Back to School Resourcessection, emphasizes that school meals continue to be a safe, nutritious option to fuel student success in SY2020-21 and includes links to supporting language from the USDA, FDA and CDC. Use it to help reassure parents and other stakeholders about school meals by sharing the electronic version or printing out a copy to give to parents. Also available in Spanish.


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SNA Lauds School Meal Waiver Extensions

September 1, 2020

Yesterday, SNA commended the USDA's decision to extend all Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) waivers through as late as Dec. 31, 2020, dependent on available funding. The move allows schools to offer meals to all children at no charge this fall to minimize the challenges of meal service during a pandemic. SNA is continuing to advocate for these waivers to be extended through School Year (SY) 2020/21. Learn more.
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How Machine Learning Can Enhance School Meal Programs

September 1, 2020

Carnegie Mellon University and several Allegheny County, Pa., groups have been using machine learning to improve school meal programs during the pandemic. Stephen Smith of the university notes that the collaboration used school bus stops as well as machine learning paired with student addresses and three other criteria to develop meal delivery routes.
 Full Story: Government Technology online (8/27)  
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USDA Extends Free School Meal Program Through December

September 1, 2020

The USDA had extended to Dec. 31 the summer meal program in schools, implemented in March because of the novel coronavirus pandemic and provides free meals to families regardless of whether they qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Parts of the program had been set to expire, but school officials, advocacy groups and others objected because of the ongoing hardships faced by families during the pandemic.

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NEWS RELEASE: USDA Extends Free Meals for Kids Through December 31, 2020

August 31, 2020

Summer meal programs can continue operating as funding allows.
 

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USDA: School Meal Waiver Will Expire

August 25, 2020

Schools must transition back to foodservice operations under the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs after US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said a coronavirus waiver allowing schools to operate with fewer restrictions will expire as the new school year begins. In an Aug. 20 letter, Perdue said continuing operations under Summer Food Service Program and the Seamless Summer Option rules "would be closer to a universal school meals program, which Congress has not authorized or funded."


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SNA is Turning 75 - Celebrate With Us!

August 21, 2020

Welcome to SNA's 75th anniversary year! As we reflect on both our historic legacy and our future promise, it is clear this will be no ordinary milestone. The year 2020-21 is expected to be the most dynamic year our profession and organization have ever faced. All the more reason we can look forward to the 75th year as one that will mark the characteristic resilience, innovation, and ingenuity of school nutrition professionals like none other. Throughout this celebratory year, leadership and innovation will take center stage while we also recognize the dedication of past, present, and future leaders. Learn more.
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Director's Best Practices Conference - Virtual Event

August 20, 2020

In a one-of-a-kind virtual SNA conference, join your school nutrition peers to hear national participation trends, the best ideas to feed kids in response to virtual and blended learning environments and staggered academic schedules—all while using classroom, curbside, and other service models. Learn More
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New Tool from SNA Focuses on Menu Management

August 20, 2020

A brand-new desk references features several resources to support complex menu needs for this school year. Read More


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New Tool to Promote Safe, Healthy School Meals

August 20, 2020

SNA has created a new marketing resource to help members promote school meals to families as students head back to school. Read More
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SNA Joins Allied Groups on Letter to USDA

August 20, 2020

SNA, along with 1,315 other organizations signed on to an allied letter to USDA requesting extension of vital school nutrition waivers. Read more


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Senator Stabenow and Congressmen Scott Send Letter to USDA Requesting Extension of Waivers

August 20, 2020

On August 14, 2020, Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) sent a letter to the USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue. Read More
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Senator Pat Roberts Sends Letter to USDA Requesting the Extension of Waivers

August 20, 2020

On August 17th, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) sent a letter signed by 19 other Republican Senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), to the U.S Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Read More


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Celebrating 75 Years of Leadership

August 18, 2020

We are excited to share that SNA has created a new marketing resource to help members promote school meals to families as students head back to school. “Safe, Nutritious School Meals—Something You Can Count on for SY 2020-21” is a new sharable flyer that includes details and links to help reassure parents and the community that school meals continue to be a safe, nutritious choice to fuel student success during the 2020-2021 school year. 
 
You are encouraged to download the flyer to share with stakeholders along with details on your program—whether you are serving curbside, in the classroom or the cafeteria this year. 
 
This new tool is the latest in a suite of specialized back-to-school resources for school nutrition professionals that SNA is developing in collaboration with our partners, including Managing Menu Needs in SY2020-21 and the Dining Guide for Meals in the Classroom
 
Learn more about SNA’s COVID-19 Back to School resources.


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New Tool From SNA Focuses On Menu Management

August 18, 2020

This month, SNA published Managing Menu Needs in SY2020-21, Your K-12 School Nutrition Buyer's Guide, Strategy & Solution Resource. This exclusive SNA member benefit was mailed to all directors and managers, as well as state agency and industry representatives. The publication is designed to help school nutrition directors, chefs, supervisors and site managers face this year's unique challenges related to serving tasty, nutritious school meals to students whether they are learning at home or in school buildings. A digital version of Managing Menu Needs, featuring live links to the companies listed in the Buyer's Guide can be found here.
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Webinar - Getting to September, Park II: The First Four Weeks

August 17, 2020

Get ideas for how to manage the first few weeks of the year in this free webinar on Aug. 18. Join us to hear veteran educators discuss:
 
  • Removing the fear and frustration of online instruction.
  • Improving student attendance and engagement.
  • Helping students, teachers manage their social-emotional wellness.
  • Managing relationship and communication with parents, families.
Register now and come armed with questions for our panelists. We will field questions from the audience during a live Q&A.

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New Nationwide COVID-19 Waivers

August 12, 2020

Six nationwide waivers for school meal service during COVID-19 closures have been posted by USDA. Read More
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The Child Nutrition Relief Act of 2020

August 12, 2020

On August 5, 2020, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (NV) introduced S.4447, the Child Nutrition Relief Act, the companion bill to Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez's (NY-07) H.R.7764.
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Texas District Adopts Universal, Free Meals

August 11, 2020

The Ector County Independent School District in Texas will provide free, universal meals to all students during the coming school year at school and via pickup services. The district will use funding from two federal programs to support the breakfast and lunch service; elementary students are not required to complete an application, but parents should fill out an income survey, while middle- and high-school students need a completed paper or online application.
Full Story: KWES-TV (Midland, Texas) (7/15) 
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New Back to School Webinar Series— Feeding Students in a Pandemic: Celebrate and Learn From School Nutrition

August 11, 2020

A brand new webinar returns on Thursday, August 13. Now is the time to recharge, reset and take advantage of this complimentary member benefit in anticipation of what will surely be a challenging school year ahead. 
 
In response to member feedback, we have moved the webinar start time back an hour to 3:00 pm Eastern time which will allow more managers and employees to participate.

School nutrition professionals across the country have been incredibly innovative and shown a commitment to go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that children across the country continued to be fed, even when schools closed suddenly in the spring due to the pandemic. In this session, the speakers will highlight the efforts of districts across the country. In particular, they will present examples of innovation, out-of-the-box solutions, and accomplishments with the goal of celebrating what was done and sharing critical learnings that can be carried forward. They will include best practices and practical tips that attendees may incorporate into their own plans for the unusual circumstances school nutrition staff now face.

Feeding Students in a Pandemic: Celebrate and Learn From School Nutrition Heroes

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SNA's Back to School Series Returns This Week

August 11, 2020

Get ready for a brand new installment in the new SNA Back to School Webinar Series! Now is the time to recharge, reset and take advantage of this complimentary member benefit in anticipation of what will surely be a challenging school year ahead. Join us on Thursday, August 13, at 3:00 p.m. (ET) for "Celebrate and Learn From School Nutrition Heroes." In this session, the speakers will highlight the efforts of districts across the country and spotlight examples of innovation, out-of-the-box solutions, and accomplishments with the goal of celebrating and sharing critical lessons that can be carried forward. Learn more and register.
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Call For 2020-2021 SNA Election Nominations

August 10, 2020

The 2021 election nominations process is open! SNA needs members with strong leadership skills, outstanding professional achievements, and a record of active participation in their state association or SNA to lead the association in the future. The Leadership Development Committee is recruiting for the following positions:

Board of Directors
 
  • Vice President
  • Southeast Regional Director
  • West Regional Director
  • At Large Director

Leadership Development Committee
 
  • Northeast Region Representative
  • Northwest Region Representative
  • Southwest Region Representative

Industry Advisory Council
 
  • Industry Advisory Council Chair

Nomination Process
Submit a nomination for one or two of the open positions or nominate yourself. You’ll find everything you need to know on the SNA website at schoolnutrition.org/LeadershipOpp including the digital nomination form. 
 
All paperwork is due Wednesday, September 30, 2020, so get your form in early! The Leadership Development Committee will meet in October to select the candidate slate for the 2021 election. The selected candidates will be announced in November and the election will be February 15-28, 2021. 
 
Contacts
If you have any questions, please contact nominations@schoolnutrition.org.
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Order Now for National School Lunch Week!

August 7, 2020

August has arrived, which means it’s time to start planning for National School Lunch Week
 
Now is more important than ever to communicate the importance of a nutritious and healthy school lunch and find fun ways promote your program. Be sure to save the dates of October 12-16.
 
Head over to the SNA Shop for all new merchandise to get in the spirit of the 2020 movie theme Now Playing: School Lunch—Your Ticket to Good Nutrition. We’ve included many budget-friendly items this year to help you stretch limited dollars, like an economy apron and water bottle, along with colorful Softstyle cotton t-shirts and other wearables to outfit your team. 
 
The bright and colorful Celebrate line includes the official NSLW logo artwork. You’ll also find a variety of bags and totes that are sure to come in handy, and there’s even a plantable carrot seed bookmark and golden statue movie award in our Nutrition Fun category. 
 
Take advantage of these quality products at excellent prices to promote your program and place your order early for the best selection! For help placing your order, contact customer service
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SNA White Paper

August 8, 2020

What will school look like in SY2020-21? And what will the impact be on school meal operations? Some of you are expecting it will be the most challenging year of your career. That's why we've produced the SNA White Paper, "Thought Starters on Reopening Schools for SY2020-21."
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MD Governor Blocks Move To Close Private Schools

August 4, 2020

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday banned local health officers from enforcing blanket orders to close schools following a move in one district to require that private and parochial schools start the school year closed to in-person instruction. In making his announcement, Hogan said private schools "deserve the same opportunity and flexibility to make reopening decisions."

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SNA Endorses School Meals Legislation

August 4, 2020

US lawmakers recently introduced the Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act, which would authorize free school meals -- either on campus or distributed via grab-and-go and delivery methods -- during the coronavirus pandemic under the School Breakfast Program and the National School Lunch Program. The School Nutrition Association is strongly supporting the proposed bill as well as advocating for federal emergency funds for school nutrition programs to offset costs related to closures during the pandemic.

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Back to School: SNA Training For You

August 3, 2020

Looking for training for you and your team? Sign up for SNA’s upcoming back to school webinars here
 
SNA has selected top-rated on-demand webinars and online courses to help with your Back to School training plans. Remember, all webinars are free for SNA members so be sure to take advantage of this benefit!
 
Webinars Recommended for Directors and Managers
 
 
Recommended for the entire team:
 
 
SNA series of Food Safety Webinars with experts at Kansas State University’s Center for Food Safety in Child Nutrition Programs
 
 
Also, take advantage of great members-only pricing on top sessions from ANC 2019, SNA’s financial management train-the-trainer program, culinary skills programmingethics training and our popular back to school virtual series for directors
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Two Key School Nutrition Bills

July 30, 2020

Two key school nutrition bills have been introduced, and we need your help to raise awareness and support! Safe and consistent student access to school meals this fall continues to be threatened by unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Please take a few minutes to write your legislators urging them to support these bills.
The Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act, introduced by House Committee on Education and Labor Chairman Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (VA-03), would guarantee every child has safe access to healthy school meals during SY 2020-21. With a multitude of families newly-eligible for free and reduced-price meals, offering meals to all students at no charge spares overburdened schools the massive task of distributing and processing meal applications and reduces the stigma for children who depend on free meals.  TAKE ACTION!
H.R. 7764, The Child Nutrition Relief Act of 2020, introduced by U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (NY-7) would allow USDA to extend all COVID-19 school feeding waivers through June 30, 2021. Extending these waivers will allow school meal programs to seamlessly continue grab-and-go meal pick up for distance learners, serve meals to students in the classroom or adjust meal service in the event of a sudden COVID-19 school closure. TAKE ACTION!
Read more about these bills and SNA's support of these measures in SNA's press release.
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Experts: Dietary Guidelines Don't Reflect US Diversity

July 28, 2020

Community groups, advocates and nutrition experts say the proposed 2020-25 Dietary Guidelines for Americans do not address issues that would make them relevant to US racial, ethnic and cultural groups. "The guidelines are culturally insensitive and not practical in many people's lives," said registered dietitian Constance Brown-Riggs.
Full Story: Civil Eats (7/28)  

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Take Action: Request Continued Student Access to School Meals

July 28, 2020

We need you to make your voice heard! On July 10, SNA sent a letter to USDA requesting swift action to guarantee consistent, safe and equitable student access to healthy school meals. We need you to ask Congress to support SNA's requests in the letter to USDA. Take action now!

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Supply Chain Issues May Affect School Meal Service

July 28, 2020

School nutrition officials say supply chain issues related to the novel coronavirus pandemic could affect how school meals are served to students this fall. Laura Benavidez, executive director of food and nutrition services for Boston Public Schools, said many districts will be looking to buy the same products such as boxed meals, and Dallas Independent School District Executive Director Michael Rosenberger said there may be less variety on the district's menu.
Full Story: Food Management (7/24) 
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Bad Seeds from China via US mail- Do NOT plant

 July 27, 2020
 
— The Kansas Department of Agriculture said state residents have reported receiving unsolicited packages of seeds that appear to be from China, which “could be invasive species, could introduce diseases to local plants, or could be harmful to livestock,” the department wrote. It’s happening in other states, too. More details here. https://www.agriculture.ks.gov/news-events/news-releases/2020/07/25/kda-asks-public-to-report-receipt-of-any-unsolicited-packages-of-seeds

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USDA Publishes Final Report from the 2020 Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee

 July 23, 2020
 
On July 15, USDA posted the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s final report. This report is an overview of the latest scientific information on specific topics such as infant and child nutrition, and dietary habits to promote health and the prevention of chronic diseases.  https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2020/07/15/usda-posts-2020-dietary-guidelines-advisory-committees-final-report
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Plan for Plenty of FUN with SN’s 2020-21 Promotional Calendar!

July 25, 2020
 
Our thanks to August sponsor LINQ, September sponsor Simplot, and October sponsor ConAgra Foodservice. 

Does the thought of celebrating National S’mores Day bring a smile to your face? Do you have recipes at the ready for National Soup Month? Do you have plans for the birthdays of Mickey Mouse, Carter G. Woodson, Jim Henson or Fanny Jackson Coppin? Now is your chance to commemorate these unique celebrations (and many, many more!) with the first six months of SNA’s recently published 2020-21 Promotional Calendar!

This helpful and free member benefit is packed with fun holidays and events to provide inspiration for your operation. Knowing that the upcoming school year will look different, these ideas and events will provide a little normalcy and inject excitement into what may be a difficult situation for students, school nutrition staff, teachers and school administrators.

Brought to you by the editorial staff of School Nutrition magazine, the calendar includes monthlong, weeklong/multi-day and single-day events—and additional details and ideas for many of the entries. While you’ll see some old favorites like National Talk Like a Pirate Day and Free Speech Week, this year’s calendar is packed with even more multicultural and inclusive celebrations, events and commemorations including Jesse Owen’s Birthday (September 12), Indigenous People’s Day (October 12), Carter G. Woodson’s Birthday (December 19) and National Popcorn Day (January 19). 

Now more than ever it’s important to smile and cultivate a little fun—so here is some inspiration to get your creative juices flowing! You can access the first six months—August 2020 through January 2021—today!

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USDA Responds to SNA’s July 10 Advocacy Letter

July 23, 2020 On July 20, USDA responded to SNA’s July 10 letter which raised serious concerns about serving students during the pandemic. SNA asked USDA to immediately extend all Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) COVID-19 waivers, including Area Eligibility, through the end of SY2020-21. USDA’s letter states,” The issues you identified in your letter are the ones we are working to understand and find a path forward in the best interest of students and schools." 
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Coronavirus Fuels Greater Focus on Diet-Related Issues

July 20, 2020
 
CORONAVIRUS FUELS GREATER FOCUS ON DIET-RELATED DISEASES: After months of the Covid-19 pandemic with no end in sight, you can expect to hear a lot more in the coming weeks and months about how poor diet and diet-related disease has made the U.S. population way more vulnerable to the virus.

Parallel epidemics: The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the influential outside panel of experts advising HHS and USDA on the 2020 iteration of the government’s nutrition advice, highlighted this issue as the group released its report released last week. In a little-noticed letter last month to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and HHS Secretary Alex Azar, the committee chair and vice chair pointed out that the two “parallel epidemics,” one non-communicable (obesity and other diet-related diseases) and one infectious (Covid-19), “appear to be synergistic.” 

They also noted that isolation and economic disruption “ has led to significant increases in food insecurity and hunger, further increasing susceptibility to both infectious and diet-related chronic diseases.”

Getting nutrition policy right: “These parallel epidemics demonstrate the central role of nutrition and healthy dietary patterns in susceptibility to both infections and diet-related chronic diseases and these relationships should be further examined in future dietary guidelines,” the committee wrote. 

More calls to fund nutrition research: Those trying to convince Congress to establish a National Institute of Nutrition at NIH are seizing on the moment to argue the pandemic shows there’s a huge need for more dietary research. Last week, the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science hosted an event with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, as well as Scott Hutchins, deputy undersecretary of research, education and economics at USDA, and others making this point.
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Action Needed to Keep School Meals Viable

July 16, 2020
 
We need you to ask Congress to support SNA's requests in the letter to USDA. Raise your voice on behalf of struggling schools and hungry students. It takes two minutes to complete your information and send your letter to your representatives. Take action now! 

We need you to make your voice heard!

On July 10th, SNA sent a letter to the USDA requesting swift action to guarantee consistent, safe and equitable student access to healthy school meals. SNA is urging USDA to allow SFAs to continue serving students through SFSP and SSO and to immediately extend all SFSP/SSO COVID-19 waivers, including Area Eligibility waivers through the end of SY 2020-2021. Allowing all schools to offer breakfast and lunch to all students at no charge is the most effective way to ensure meals are served safely and sustainably during the pandemic.

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SNA Urges USDA to Keep School Meals Safe and Accessible for ALL Students

July 16, 2020
 
SNA urges USDA to allow school meal programs to continue serving students through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) or Seamless Summer Option (SSO) and to immediately extend all SFSP/SSO COVID-19 waivers, including Area Eligibility waivers, through the end of SY 2020/2021. Due to current obstacles and the enormous financial impacts of the pandemic on families and school meal programs, SNA is requesting that all schools be allowed to serve meals to all students at no charge. 

On July 10th, SNA sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to request that USDA take swift action to guarantee safe and reliable access to healthy school meals and ensure school meal programs can remain fiscally sustainable.

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Vaccines Update

July 14, 2020
 
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci said COVID-19 vaccine candidates will start moving into late-stage clinical trials by the end of July, continuing through the summer and into fall. "We may be able to at least know whether we are dealing with a safe and effective vaccine by the early winter, late winter, beginning of 2021," Fauci said.

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New Back to School webinar series -- Register now!

July 15, 2020 
 
We are excited to announce our new SNA Back to School Webinar Series! Now is the time to recharge, reset and take advantage of this complimentary member benefit in anticipation of what will surely be a challenging school year ahead. In response to member feedback, we have moved the webinar start time back an hour to 3:00 p.m. Eastern time, which will allow more managers and employees to participate. We're kicking things off with two July webinars, with more coming in August and September. Take a look!
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Florida Requires In-Person Learning

July 14, 2020
 Full Story: Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Fla.) (tiered subscription model) (7/6),  The Washington Post (tiered subscription model) (7/6)  

Fla. order requires in-person learning

Corcoran, at podium, speaking at a 2019 press conference. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued an executive order Monday calling for schools in the state to reopen in August to in-person instruction. Under the order, schools will be required to provide at least five days of in-person instruction for families who want that option.

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SNA Training for Managers

July 14, 2020
 

Dear School Nutrition Managers Across the Country,

As your representative on SNA's Board of Directors, I am encouraging you to take the time to participate in SNA's upcoming Back to School Webinar series.  Now is the time to recharge, reset and take advantage of this complimentary member benefit in anticipation of what will surely be a challenging school year ahead. In response to member feedback, we have moved the webinar start time back an hour to 3:00 pm Eastern time which will allow more managers and employees to participate.

The goal of this week's webinar on July 15th will be to help us navigate the added stress we are all facing right now during this pandemic. Join us!
Renowned psychotherapist and mental health expert Joyce Marter, LCPC will offer clinically proven strategies and practical tools for school nutrition professionals to better manage stress in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn to manage fear, uncertainty and change while fostering resilience, with access to resources for practicing self-care and accessing support.

Building Resilience & Promoting Mental Health During Challenging Times

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SNA Advocates for Universal Free Meals for 2020-21

July 5, 2020
 
Full Story: NNY360 (Watertown, N.Y.) (tiered subscription model) (7/1)  

The School Nutrition Association helped secure the extension of 14 federal waivers for the operation of school meal services through June 30, 2021, and are following up on another request for universal, free meals in the upcoming school year, according to Diane Pratt-Heavner, director of media relations for SNA. "Our concern for the school year was we knew that school meals were going to have to look very different than the traditional cafeteria setting," Pratt-Heavner said.

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SNA Plea for COVID-19 Waiver Extensions Meets Swift USDA Response

June 29, 2020
 
Despite widespread  financial losses from COVID-19 closures this spring, school kitchens must be prepared with food, equipment, PPE and staffing to meet the demands for meal service in the new school year.  SNA continues to urge Congress for much needed funding to cover costs associated with COVID-19. 

ARLINGTON, VA – Following an urgent plea from the non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) earlier this month, the US Department of Agriculture  today announced the extension of multiple COVID-19 emergency feeding waivers through the end of School Year 2020/2021. SNA sent a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on behalf of school nutrition professionals nationwide to request vital regulatory extensions and support to ensure meal programs are equipped to meet children’s critical nutrition needs this fall.  

School nutrition professionals must overhaul operations as states and local districts plan a variety of vastly different learning models next school year, from distance learning to modified daily and weekly student schedules. The extension of the following COVID-19 regulatory waivers through next school year will allow school meal programs to continue grab-and-go meal pick up for distance learners, serve meals to students in the classroom or adjust meal service in the event of sudden COVID-19 school closures:

Nationwide Meal Times Waiver

Nationwide Non-congregate Feeding Waiver

Nationwide Meal Pattern Waiver

Nationwide Parent/Guardian Meal Pick-Up Waiver

Additionally, USDA announced a  new waiver to address offer versus serve requirements at the high school level.  Details are being reviewed on the impacts of this waiver.

“After abrupt closings forced a quick transition to emergency feeding programs, school nutrition professionals effectively changed course and implemented waivers to ensure students continued to be nourished,” said SNA President Gay Anderson, SNS. "We greatly appreciate USDA action to extend these waivers so we can address the many variables in planning, preparing and serving our students this fall.”

Following USDA's extension of the  Area Eligibility Waiver through August 31, 2020, SNA continues to advocate for a nationwide waiver through next school year. Area Eligibility requirements for the Summer Foodservice Program and Seamless Summer Option limit “open site” meal service to areas where at least half of the children in the area are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

To ensure all students have equal access to healthy school meals, SNA has also requested the provision of school meals for all students at no charge for the 2020-2021 school year. This would eliminate the need for overburdened schools to process free and reduced-price meal applications to newly eligible families as reliance on school meals is anticipated to surge with more than 40 million Americans filing for unemployment.

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Cyclospora Outbreak Linked to Bagged Salad Mix

July 6, 2020
 
A cyclospora outbreak tied to bagged salad has sickened at least 122 people in seven states, the CDC announced on Tuesday.Greens sold at Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco and ALDI have been recalled across several Midwestern states.

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SNA 2020 Compensation and Benefits Report Available

 June 22, 2020
 
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) has published its 2020 Compensation & Benefits Report, substantially expanding upon the research scope of similar SNA studies in the early 2000s. The report summarizes the findings from a survey conducted October – December 2019 of director-level SNA members from 1,042 unique school districts nationwide. It includes data on:
  • Staff counts and turnover
  • Human resources challenges
  • Budgets
  • Certification and credentialing
  • Compensation and benefits

The full report provides in-depth compensation and benefits data on specific school and district levels positions, segmented by district size, region, unionization status, certification/credentialing, and other variables.

You can view and download the report by clicking here.

Thank you to all the Directors who completed the survey and contributed data on their district!
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Virginia Directs $3M to School Foodservice

June 15, 2020
 
 

Virginia will direct $3 million to school nutrition programs through the Governor's Emergency Education Relief fund. Sarah Steely, associate director of nonprofit No Kid Hungry, said the funding, which includes hazard pay for school nutrition professionals, is an important investment in child nutrition.

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Financial Losses Subject of SN Digital Extra

June 12, 2020
 
 As the "official" school year finally comes to an end across the United States, many of you are continuing to provide meals to families through one of the federal Summer Meal Programs (and are especially grateful to hear USDA's recent announcement of a nationwide area eligibility waiver through August 31, 2020). Participation in summer meals is one strategy to help school nutrition departments recover some of the financial losses suffered in the wake of school closures and emergency meal service. And those financial blows hit hard, affecting both expenses and revenues.
 

This article, our fifth in the magazine's series of COVID-19 digital supplements, offers some sobering statistics and stories from large and small districts alike as they contend with a troubling new economic reality. But the news is not all grim. This article also reinforces the resiliency of school nutrition professionals in the face of the toughest challenges.

A PDF of this supplement is linked in this e-blast. You can read "The Financial Blows of COVID-19" on your device or print out a hard copy. Share with team members and other stakeholders, especially school administrators and school business officials contemplating different school reopening strategies. We simply ask that if you share outside of the school nutrition community, credit be provided to: School Nutrition/School Nutrition Association.

This article will also be available as a resource on the COVID-19 tab of SchoolNutrition.org, and it will be inserted into the digital edition of the June/July 2020 issue of School Nutrition.

School Nutrition thanks NutriStudents K-12 for their generous support in making this article available.

Look for our next supplement to be released later in June.
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SNA Publishes New Thought Starters White Paper

June 11, 2020
 
Asking the right questions to prepare for the next normal is the focus of Thought Starters on Reopening Schools for SY2020-21, a new 25-page SNA resource made possible with the support of Kellogg’s Away From Home. Read More

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USDA Announced Nationwide Area Eligibility Waiver

June 11, 2020 

On June 10, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the extension of the nationwide area eligibility waiver through August 31st, 2020. This waiver allows program operators to locate Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) open sites in areas that do not meet area eligibility requirements. USDA also provided a third extension for the meal pattern waiver, now effective through July 31st, 2020.

SNA continues to advocate for the immediate extension of emergency feeding waivers through the end of School Year 2020/2021 and urges Congress to provide much needed funding to cover costs associated with COVID-19. You can help make our voices heard by writing to your legislators on SNA’s Action NetworkCalibri;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin;color:#201F1E;mso-ansi-language:
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Policy Update

June 9, 2020
 
The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service posted notice of intent to collect information for the Micro-Grants for Food Security Program (MGFSP) in the Federal Register. As authorized in the Farm Bill, the MGFSP is intended to increase the quantity and quality of locally grown food in food insecure communities. The information collected is needed to certify that grant participants are complying with applicable program regulations. Comments on this information collection are due by July 27th, 2020. 

6.4.2020 SNA Calls for Quick Action to Keep School Meal Programs Viable

SNA has sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue urging the immediate extension of COVID-19 emergency feeding waivers through the end of the SY 2020-2021. This letter has been sent to all of Congress and contains a request that school meals be provided for all students at no charge. This letter also includes essential information regarding ongoing financial and operational barriers as schools work to continue providing critical meals throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Full press release.

4.27.2020 USDA Announces Farmers to Families Food Box Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), in conjunction with the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE), published Frequently Asked Questions for non-profit organizations seeking to receive food through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. The Frequently Asked Questions are available on the AMS website here. Additional questions may be submitted to USDAFoodBoxDistributionProgram@usda.gov.

4.27.2020 SNA Advocates for Funding to Offset Losses

SNA joined 37 allied organizations in a letter to the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees advocating for funding to help offset financial losses for school meal programs due to COVID-19 closures. The letter urges Congress to provide $2.6 billion to mitigate a portion of the estimated, significant loss that school nutrition programs have and will continue to experience. Funding must be provided to make programs financially solvent and to maintain the integrity of these essential programs as the recovery process begins, with many more children relying on school meal programs. Read the complete letter.

4.29.2020 USDA Releases New COVID-19 School Nutrition Guidance

USDA FNS has released a new series of waivers and guidance for school meal service during COVID-19 school closures.

Nationwide Waiver to Waive First Week Site Visits in the SFSP:

Waives requirements that sponsors visit each of their sites at least once during the first week of operation under the program for sites that have operated successfully in the previous year and sponsors that successfully participate in the CACFP or the NSLP.

Nationwide Waiver of Food Service Management Contract Duration in the NSLP and SFSP:

Waives food service management company (FSMC) contracts duration requirements for all state agencies, SFAs and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sponsors.

Nationwide Waiver of Local School Wellness Assessments:

Waives requirement for schools unable to complete a triennial assessment of the local school wellness policies by June 30, 2020.

Nationwide Waiver of Annual Review Requirements for State Agencies in the CACFP

Waives requirement to complete CACFP monitoring onsite through September 30, 2020. State agencies electing this option are encouraged to prioritize reviews of these institutions next year.

Nationwide Waiver to Extend Unanticipated School Closure Operations:

Waives the October through April time limitation for implementation of SSO and SFSP during unanticipated school closures and allows State agencies that elect this option to permit SFAs to operate under unanticipated school closure requirements through June 30, 2020.

Reporting COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Data:

Each COVID-19 school nutrition program waiver requires that State agencies and local program operators provide certain summaries and descriptions of their use.

4.30.2020 SNA Comments on DGA Committee

SNA submitted comments on the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) Request for Comment. In the comment letter, SNA referenced previously provided testimony sharing that school nutrition professionals provide the foundation for meals at schools, with the potential to reach 50 million students nationwide. SNA strongly supports sound, evidence-based guidelines and the guidelines must be practical and framed such that students will choose to eat nutritious meals at school that in turn will influence their choices throughout their lives. SNA also asks that the DGAC remain aware of the operational and budgetary constraints. Read the complete letter.

5.9.2020 USDA Approves $1.2 Billion in Contracts for Farmers to Families Food Box Program

USDA approved $1.2 billion in contracts to support American producers and communities in need through the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program. “This is a new, innovative approach to provide critical support to American farmers and families, and USDA moved as expeditiously as federal procurement rules allow to stand up the program and solicit offers,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. Additional information on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, including webinars and an FAQs, is available on the AMS website.

5.13.2020 SNA Advocates for Kitchen Infrastructure and Equipment During COVID-19

SNA joined 21 allied organizations in a letter to the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees to advocate for funding for school kitchen infrastructure and equipment. School nutrition departments are dedicated to serving meals to their communities during the pandemic, which will continue to result in many additional, unformidable costs to be incurred, which may not be reimbursed by USDA. These additional costs include personal protective equipment, storage, delivery, and distribution of meals. This letter urges Congress to include $200 million in funding for school kitchen equipment grants in the next COVID-19 response bill. Read the complete letter.

5.13.2020 USDA Announces Equipment Assistance Grants for SFAs

FNS announced that it’s awarding $30 million in competitive equipment assistance grants to eligible School Food Authority’s (SFAs) that participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). This distribution of funds was provided through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020. State agencies will award subgrants to local educational agencies and schools to purchase the equipment needed to serve healthier meals, improve food safety and help support the establishment or expansion of the School Breakfast Program (SBP). 

5.13.2020 Federal Register: School Food Purchase Study IV

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has published the notice?“Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request-School Food Purchase Study IV.” This proposed collection invites the public and related agencies to provide comments regarding the data surrounding national estimates of food acquisitions for both food purchases and USDA Foods made by School Food Authorities (SFAs) that participate in school nutrition programs. All written comments must be received by July 13, 2020. 

5.13.2020 School Meals Operations Study: Evaluation of the School-Based Child Nutrition Programs

FNS published the notice “Agency Information Collection Activities: School Meals Operations Study: Evaluation of the School-Based Child Nutrition Programs.” This collection is a revision of a currently approved collection for the School Meals Operations (SMO) to include supplemental administrative data regarding the CN COVID-19 waivers. All written comments must be received by July 13, 2020. 

5.15.2020 USDA Extends Four Nationwide Waivers for School Nutrition Programs

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the extension of four nationwide waivers: Non-Congregate FeedingParent Pickup, Meal Pattern Waiver Extended and Meal Times. These waivers provide operators of child nutrition programs the flexibility and support needed to continue to feed children during the COVID-19 pandemic. All three waivers have been extended until August 31, 2020. Check out SNA’s Summary of USDA FNS Waivers and Guidance?for full details on waivers and extensions. 

5.21.2020 Proposed Rule: Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

The USDA posted the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Final Rule in the Federal Register. CFAP provides assistance to agricultural producers impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. This rule establishes provisions for direct payments to producers of eligible commodities to help offset sales losses and increased marketing costs.

5.21.2020 Federal Register: Final Rule on Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

USDA posted the final rule for the “Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. ” This final rule implements the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will assist producers that have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The CFAP will provide financial assistance to offset the losses and increased costs for agricultural producers and farmers. This rule establishes direct payments for producers of eligible commodities such as USDA Foods and specifies all eligibility requirements, payment calculations, and procedures to apply. This rule is currently in affect. 

5.23.2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Reschedules Meeting and Extends Comment Period

The 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee' s (DGAC) webcast only meeting, initially scheduled for Monday, June 8, will now take place on Wednesday, June 17, at 11:00 AM EDT. The meeting will include updates on the Committee’s draft conclusion statements, deliberations and decisions regarding their draft advisory report. In addition, the public comment period has also been extended until June 10, 2020.

5.26.2020 Information Collection: Micro-Grants for Food Security Program

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SNA Urges Quick Action to Keep School Meal Programs Viable

June 8, 2020
 
SNA is calling for the immediate extension of COVID-19 emergency feeding waivers through the end of School Year 2020-21 and the provision of school meals for all students at no charge. Swift action is needed to ensure meal programs are equipped to meet children's critical nutrition needs this fall. The request was the basis of a letter to US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue outlining urgent concerns for school meal programs, which face a financial crisis due to COVID-19 closures. Learn more.

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SNA: Schools Need Flexibility For Foodservice

June 8, 2020
 
The School Nutrition Association is calling on the USDA to extend 11 school meal waivers issued during the coronavirus public health emergency and provide universal free meals through the next school year. In the letter to US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, SNA said school nutrition professionals will continue to need flexibility to revise menus and change how meals are distributed as necessary during the 2020-21 school year.

 Full Story: Education Dive(6/4) 

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SNA Publishes Resource for SY2020-21 Scenario Planning

June 5, 2020
 
It's also not too late to register for SNA's Stronger Together: Back to School Series, which begins June 8. Click here for details. We hope you take advantage of these resources and remain assured that SNA will continue to develop new programs and publications to help you navigate the changes to come. 
 

It's June and many of you are asking, "What's next?" What will school look like in SY2020-21—and what will the impact be on school meal operations? Some of you are expecting it will be the most challenging year of your career, as school administrators contemplate dramatic changes to reduce the risk of infection outbreaks until a COVID-19 vaccine or effective treatment is available.

While there is a long, frustrating history of school administrators failing to consider the complexities of school meal programs in any calculus about system changes, SNA is encouraged to learn that some school nutrition directors have been invited to participate on district and state taskforces about reopening. In addition, we are aware of many school nutrition teams that have initiated scenario-planning discussions of their own, so they can be ready for whatever decisions are handed down. Still, we know that there are many, many other school nutrition operators who don’t know where to begin.

That's why we have produced Thought Starters on Reopening Schools for SY2020-21, a 25-page resource designed to help SNA members "ask the right questions to prepare for the next normal." Considering the complexity of school meal programs and the incredible disparity in how school districts of different sizes and demographics manage these programs, one publication can’t begin to cover all the bases. But it will point you in the right direction to start thinking about the many ways your operation will have to change.

A link to a free, downloadable PDF is included with this e-blast. You can read Thought Starters on Reopening Schools for SY2020-21 on your device or print out a hard copy. Share it with team members and other stakeholders as desired. We simply ask that if you share outside of the school nutrition community, credit always be provided to the School Nutrition Association.

For future reference, this resource can be found on the COVID-19 tab of SchoolNutrition.org.

SNA thanks Kellogg's Away From Home for their generous support in making this resource available.

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Webinar on Reopening

June 4, 2020
 
In this interview-style webinar, presented by our allied partner, No Kid Hungry, you’ll hear from SNA President Gay Anderson, SNS, a school nutrition director, superintendent and school board president about how they have worked together in the past and how they are working together now to maintain a robust child nutrition program. Learn more and register 

Planning for the Reopening of Schools: The Importance of School Nutrition & District Leadership Relationships Webinar

Thursday, June 11 at 2 PM EST 

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SNA Urges USDA to Preserve School Meal Programs

June 4, 2020
 
Today, June 4th, SNA sent a letter to USDA, copying key Congressional offices, requesting that USDA take urgent action to preserve school meal programs. SNA is requesting the immediate extension of COVID-19 emergency feeding waivers through the end of School Year 2020/2021 and the provision of school meals for all students at no charge. As the school year ends with widespread financial losses, school nutrition professionals must overhaul their operations while meeting unprecedented demand, as reliance on school meals is anticipated to surge due to unemployment. Swift action is needed to ensure meal programs are equipped to meet children’s critical nutrition needs this fall. Read the press release for more information.
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Stronger Together Back to School Series

May 29, 2020
 
Take a look at how we’ve packed the agenda to equip you for planning in a pandemic. Our speakers will cover how to keep staff and food safe in our new environment, promote social distancing and feed kids in classrooms, communicate with key stakeholders and the community, manage your staff to maintain wellness and reduce anxiety, plus you’ll hear a procurement update from USDA—and much more!

You’ll also gain access to great resources to apply what you’ve learned and create your back to school action plan. These include:

  • Planning workbook and sample resources to develop an overall plan
  • District back to school scenario planning template and SOPs in the time of COVID-19
  • Access to the digital session recordings
  • Suggested reading, including SNA’s “Back to School Thought Starters” white paper

Plus, we’ve brought in expert facilitator Lowell Aplebaum, CEO and Strategy Catalyst of the company Vista Cova and a favorite keynote speaker at SNA’s National Leadership Conference, to lead this high-level virtual event together with a host of other speakers we’re continuing to announce through next week.

Registration Fee: $149 SNA members, $299 non-members
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Senate HELP Committee Holds Hearing to Examine Reopening

May 21, 2020 
 
On May 12, the Senate Health, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing— "COVID-19: Safely Getting Back to Work and School." Remote witnesses included Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House's Coronavirus Task Force, who acknowledged the problems concerning students missing school but stated he didn't have a proper solution to address the issue. Read More 
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USDA Extends Three Nationwide Waivers for School Nutrition Programs

May 21, 2020 
On May 15, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the extension of three nationwide waivers: Non-congregate feeding,?parent pickup and meal times. All three waivers have been extended until August 31, 2020. Check out SNA’s Summary of USDA FNS Waivers and Guidance?for full details on waivers and extensions.  
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Emotional Wellness Is Subject Of Digital Extra From School Nutrition Magazine

May 20, 2020
 
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it's a fitting occasion for School Nutrition to investigate the emotional challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, while offering some suggested coping strategies. Anxiety about an uncertain future persists, even as states begin to lift stay-at-home orders. School nutrition programs are extending their meal service operations through the summer, while strategizing multiple scenarios for serving meals when the new school year begins. "Normal" seems far in the future and we all continue to cycle through a range of emotions. This article, our fourth in the magazine's series of COVID-19 digital supplements, addresses the importance of self-care.

You can read "Sad, Mad, Bad and Occasionally Rad" on your device or print out a hard copy. Share with team members and other stakeholders as desired. We simply ask that if you share outside of the school nutrition community, credit be provided to: School Nutrition/ School Nutrition Association.

This article will also be available as a resource on the COVID-19 tab of SchoolNutrition.org, and it will be inserted into the digital edition of the May 2020 issue of School Nutrition.

School Nutrition thanks JTM Food Group for their generous support in making this article available.  

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Stronger Together: Announcing Our New Live Virtual Series!

May 17, 2020
 
Stay tuned for more details and speaker info to come in the SNA Training Zone! 

SNA has your training needs covered. We are excited to announce our new “Stronger Together: Back to School Series!” This virtual event brings in the experts for four afternoons of high-level learning to equip you with an actionable back-to-school plan in the unprecedented COVID-19 K-12 landscape.

Now, more than ever before, you need a back-to-school action plan with a solid, all-encompassing strategy to address the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 repercussions for the 2020-21 school year. This series also offers you the exclusive benefit of coming together virtually with your peers to learn, share ideas and plan for potential scenarios and environments.

From strategic planning to sanitation, procurement to packaging, equipment to engagement, menus, technology and more—you will find a full range of topics to outfit you for planning in a pandemic. Plus, there will be networking opportunities! Utilizing Zoom breakout rooms, we will designate set times for peer to peer conversation and connection.

Included with your registration:

  • Pre-survey with registration to hone in on the most relevant discussion topics to you
  • Four afternoons of live content with a follow-up session two weeks post-event
  • Opportunity for engagement through chat and Q&A
  • Access to the digital session recordings
  • Digital action planning tool
  • Suggested reading, including SNA’s “Back to School Thought Starters” white paper

Registration Fee: $149 SNA members, $299 non-members

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Digital Extra from School Nutrition Magazine

May 13, 2020 
 
Focusing on the culinary wizardry of school nutrition operations during pandemic closures, School Nutrition published its third article in a digitally exclusive series. Read More 
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USDA To Buy $470 Million of Surplus Food

May 13, 2020 
 
USDA announced that it will spend $470 million to buy more surplus food to mitigate the supply chain disruption caused by COVID-19. The funds will be spent as a part of the authority USDA has for food purchases to help farmers and people in need through school meals, food banks and other programs. USDA will spend $120 million on surplus dairy, $50 million each of potatoes and turkey and $35 million on strawberries. Other purchases include chicken, catfish, pollock, asparagus, sweet potatoes and orange juice. 
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Section 32- IMPORTANT MESSAGE

May 5, 2020
 
 Section 32 is where CNP's get reimbursement.  These funds come from taxes or tariffs on imports.  Section 32  can be spent on commodities for the programs and to help farmers by removing surplus production of items such as those listed below that aren't being sold because of lower purchasing by consumers or exports to other countries.

Using broad authority USDA has had since the Depression era, known as Section 32 purchases, officials will buy up those surplus products and redistribute them to food banks, school feeding programs and other efforts to help hungry Americans. It’s separate from the $3 billion ad-hoc commodity purchase program that Secretary Sonny Perdue announced in mid-April as part of a broader farm rescue package.

What’s on the menu? Much of the new funds will be used to buy dairy ($120 million), potatoes and turkey products ($50 million each) and strawberries ($35 million). Chicken, catfish, pollock, asparagus, sweet potatoes, tart cherries and orange juice are also on the list. The food purchases are expected to ship in July, USDA said. 

 

Farm groups have been calling for Perdue to exercise the department’s purchase power to help farmers whose markets have disappeared as schools, restaurants and other businesses started shutting down in March. But USDA was slow to step in, even with demand surging at food banks as unemployment rose.

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Food Shortages Make Preparing Student Meals A Challenge

April 26, 2020
 
 Anderson County Schools in Tennessee served 35,000 meals in the past month but has had to deal with food shortages and low supplies of disposable dinnerware. Students get three breakfasts and three lunches distributed on Mondays and Thursdays, but Director of Nutrition Margaret Burrell says the district has had problems getting grains, breads and some protein items to prepare meals.

 Full Story: WVLT-TV (Knoxville, Tenn.) (4/23)  

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School Nutrition Seeks $2.6 Billion In Covid Relief

April 23, 2020
School nutrition programs across the country are under financial strain as they continue to serve meals through school closures, and they want Congress to include them in the next round of aid.

"We urge Congress to provide $2.6 billion to mitigate a portion of the estimated, significant financial loss that school nutrition programs have and will continue to experience," reads a letter to key appropriators that's circulating. Signatories include the School Nutrition Association, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Urban School Food Alliance, which represents large school districts. 

Greater costs, same reimbursement: "School meal programs chose to keep workers employed, deliver meals to students with no additional reimbursement, and expose staff to the coronavirus with little to no funding for proper personal protective equipment," the groups write. "Many maintained fixed expenses such as salaries while taking on unanticipated expenses such as hazard pay and transportation."
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Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee

April 23, 2020

Half of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee members have some ties to the International Life Sciences Institute, a controversial group backed by Coca-Cola and others, according to a new report by Corporate Accountability.

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SCHOOL UPDATE: Reimbursement

April 23, 2020
 
 

School districts feed hungry but may not be reimbursed

School districts have turned their cafeterias into food banks and soup kitchens to meet the emergency needs of children and families who have trouble affording food due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, but these additional meals may not be covered by federal child nutrition program reimbursement rules. Katie Wilson of the Urban School Alliance estimates the 12 largest US school districts will spend from $12 million to $19 million through the end of June to meet the demand, and the organization is asking Congress and federal agencies for help.

 Full Story: The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (4/19)  

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A Thank You From SNA President

April 21, 2020 
 
 
Stay safe, stay healthy, and I hope to see you all soon! Thank you! 

It’s National Volunteer Week, and I want to say a HUGE thank you to all of our volunteers who are so dedicated and committed to helping our Association be successful. Whether during normal times, or the current times we are in, you are the heart and soul of our Association and we so appreciate your volunteerism.

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Request for Relief for SFS budgets

April 21, 2020
 
Organizations such as the School Nutrition Association and the Urban School Food Alliance are asking the federal government to help school meal programs facing both increased demand and declines in revenue amid the coronavirus pandemic. "A lot of schools are working through their or have worked through their inventory as they prepare these meals, and they need enough funding to fill their refrigerators again next fall," said Diane Pratt-Heavner, SNA's director of media relations.
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Court Halts Effort To Roll Back School Meal Standards

April 16, 2020
 
 Full Story: Education Week (tiered subscription model) (4/14),  The Hill (4/14)  

The District Court of Maryland on Monday blocked an effort by President Donald Trump's administration to roll back nutrition standards for school meals. At issue, the court found, is that the USDA did not seek public comment as required under the federal Administrative Procedure Act when it took steps to ease standards for whole grains and sodium in school meals.

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USDA Releases FFVP COVID-19 Memo

April 15, 2020 
 
USDA has released a new memo regarding flexibilities in the operation of the FFVP during COVID-19 school closures. 

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New USDA COVID-19 Policy Memos

 

USDA Food and Nutrition Service has released a series of Q&A memos to provide clarification to meal service requirements during COVID-19 school closures.

SP 11: Q&A related to Monitoring and Reporting Nationwide Waivers

SP 12: Q&A related to operation of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP)

SP 13: Q&A related to Meal Service Time, Non-Congregate Feeding, and Activity Requirement Nationwide Waivers

SP 14: Q&A related to Child Nutrition Program Meal Service,

including clarification on:

Milk Requirements, SFSP Closed Enrollment Sites and Camps, Site Finder, CACFP Meal Delivery, Multi-Program Sponsors, Claims and Payments, Civil Rights, Weekend and Holiday Meals

April 15, 2020 
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Emergency Preparedness

April 15, 2020 
 
Find tools related to personal hygiene, cleaning and sanitizing from the Institute of Child Nutrition (ICN), LunchAssist tools, checklists and guides on serving emergency food, and free online food handling training through ServSafe.

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Dietary Guidelines Committee Update

April 15, 2020 
 
The 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee's schedule has been extended in consideration of new demands on Committee members' schedules due to COVID-19. The ongoing period for public comments to the Committee, which opened in March 2019, will now close on June 1, 2020. USDA and HHS continue to plan for the release of the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans by the end of the year.

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Employee Safety Subject of Digital Extra From School Nutrition Magazine

April 15, 2020 
 
The effects and implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on school meal operations are ever-evolving. Reacting to change and being able to pivot, regroup and redirect are the hallmarks of our "new normal."

To help address topics that are relevant today—and not wait until the next print edition is mailed—School Nutrition has produced the first of a series of digital-exclusive COVID-19 supplements.

A PDF of our first supplement, focused on how school meal operations are addressing employee safety, is attached to this e-blast. You can read "The Intersection of Health, Duty and Compassion" on your device or print out a hard copy. Share with team members and other stakeholders as desired. We simply ask that if you share outside of the School Nutrition community, credit be provided to: School Nutrition/School Nutrition Association.
Look for our next supplement to be released in late April. 

This article will also be available as a resource on the COVID-19 tab of SchoolNutrition.org, and it will be inserted into the digital edition of the April 2020 issue of School Nutrition.

School Nutrition thanks E S Foods for their generous support in making this article available.

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The Agriculture Department Could Be Forced To Start From Scratch

April 15, 2020 
 
This is in "Morning Agriculture" newsletter 

— The Agriculture Department could be forced to start from scratch as the Trump administration tries to unwind Obama-era school nutrition requirements, after a federal court this week vacated USDA's 2018 rule to ease whole grain and sodium standards.

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TRUMP'S SCHOOL LUNCH ROLLBACK IN LIMBO

As school officials across the country scramble to serve meals to millions of students amid widespread closures, there's a looming regulatory question: What nutrition standards will they have to follow next year? 

A federal court decision on Monday potentially turned the landscape upside down. The court ruled that USDA's 2018 rule to relax whole grain and sodium standards — which had been championed by former first lady Michelle Obama — violated the Administrative Procedure Act. 

"This really puts the agency back at ground zero," said Karianne Jones, a lawyer at Democracy Forward, the legal watchdog group that represented the Center for Science in the Public Interest and Healthy School Food Maryland in their lawsuit against USDA.

Cooking from scratch: If USDA wants to keep its policy, the department will likely have to start the rulemaking over, including soliciting comments, a process that usually takes years, Jones said.

What's next? The government has 60 days to appeal the decision. A USDA spokesperson declined to comment on next steps, noting that the department doesn't weigh in on pending litigation.

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School Lunch Lady

School Lunch Hero Day

School Lunch Hero Day is Friday, May 1—just one month away! If there was ever a time to spot light school nutrition professionals, it is now given all that they are doing to feed America’s children. During these uncertain times, you can still recognize #LunchHeroes. Need help trying to figure out how you can still celebrate as we face COVID-19 school closures? Don’t worry, SNA has tools on hand to assist you in recognizing the amazing job school nutrition professionals do every day–and even more so as they remain on the front lines to feed students nationwide!

This is the eighth year SNA has partnered with artist Jarrett J. Krosoczka, author of the “Lunch Lady” book series that started it all. We are excited to announce new artwork from Jarrett this year that you can share on social media. Download the artwork here. 
You’ll find lots of recognition ideas on the website. Get students involved by downloading our new thank-you cards—also available in Spanish. Plan to spread the word to the rest of your school, district, and community with the help of our sample press release and proclamation. Looking for some extra special recognition? Consider gifting your employees for all of their hard work with a new yellow School Lunch Hero Day apron, t-shirt or other fun merchandise from the SNA Emporium! Order your items today to ensure your heroes receive their gifts in time. We can’t wait to celebrate with you! 
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New USDA Waivers, SNA Joins Partners On Emergency Feeding Letter

USDA announced new nationwide waivers to grant states additional flexibility for meal service during COVID-19 school closures. For a complete list of nationwide waivers and FNS actions to respond to COVID-19, visit www.fns.usda.gov/disaster/pandemic/covid-19. In addition, SNA joined numerous allied groups in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service's (USDA/FNS) leadership to request additional nationwide waivers, including waiving area eligibility requirements, to ensure access to healthy meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Association will continue to advocate on behalf of members working to safely serve students during school closures. More +

New USDA Waivers & SNA Joins Partners on Emergency Feeding Letter

March 27, 2020 
 
USDA has announced new nationwide waivers to grant states additional flexibility for meal service during COVID-19 school closures. These waivers include:
  • Nationwide Meal Pattern Waiver: FNS has provided nationwide approval for states to locally waive specific meal pattern requirements as needed to support access to nutritious meals when certain foods are not available due to the novel coronavirus. (Guidance for States on the Meal Pattern Waiver)
  • Nationwide Parent/Guardian Meal Pickup Waiver: FNS is allowing states approved for non-congregate feeding to waive the rule preventing parents and guardians from picking up meals for their children, as long as they protect accountability and integrity. (Guidance for States on the Meal Pickup Waiver)
  • Nationwide Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Data Waiver: FNS is extending CEP election, notification and reporting and deadlines for School Year 2020-21. (Guidance for States on the CEP Waiver)

For a complete list of nationwide waivers and FNS actions to respond to COVID-19, visit https://www.fns.usda.gov/disaster/pandemic/covid-19

In addition, the School Nutrition Association joined numerous allied groups in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service’s (USDA/FNS) leadership to request additional nationwide waivers, including waiving Area Eligibility requirements, to ensure access to healthy meals during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Association will continue to advocate on behalf of members working to safely serve students during school closures.
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Coronavirus Relief Bill Signed By President

To help families and individuals who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump signed H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, on March 18. The bill contains several provisions to support school nutrition programs working to serve students during coronavirus-related school closures. Learn more. More +

Coronavirus Relief Bill Signed by President; Relief Grants Available for SFAs from No Kid Hungry

Last night, President Trump signed H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which contains several provisions to support school nutrition programs working to serve students during coronavirus-related school closures. Notably, the bill:

  1. Provides the Secretary of Agriculture with the authority to grant states with child nutrition program waivers that may increase costs to the federal government. This will allow the Department to consider more options to help child nutrition providers continue serving children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Provides the Secretary authority to: 1) issue nationwide waivers; 2) allow all child and adult care centers to operate as non-congregate sites; and 3) waive the meal pattern requirements if there is a disruption to the food supply
  3. Authorizes a Pandemic EBT program, which will provide food assistance to families with children whose schools are impacted by extended closures five days or more due to COVID-19.

SNA has been advocating for more options for school meal programs to serve students during coronavirus-related school closures.  Schools, especially non area eligible sites, are facing various regulatory and logistical challenges in serving needy students in their communities. SNA continues to call on USDA and Congress to grant all school sites temporary eligibility to serve all children at no charge through the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option.

Additionally, SNA recognizes the health and safety of school nutrition professionals is of utmost importance. We are in active communication with the CDC and expect more guidance for school nutrition professionals soon. SNA will share this information from CDC as soon as it is released.

Relief Grants Available to School Food Authorities

School Food Authorities (SFAs) and other community organizations can seek financial assistance through emergency grants from No Kid Hungry. The grants can be used to support local efforts like home-delivered meals, grab ‘n’ go meal programs, school and community pantries, backpack programs and other initiatives. No Kid Hungry is providing $1 million in grant funding immediately. For further information and to see if you’re eligible for a grant, complete the application process from No Kid Hungry.

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Covid 19 cell

SNA Resources Amidst the Covid-19 Crisis

SNA values our members, and we are committed to helping you during this challenging time. Even though schools are closing throughout the country, we have seen some fantastic work as our members strive to provide meals to students. And we couldn’t be prouder of the efforts you are making. It might feel like the world is on hold, but we know you’re out there making a difference. In addition to the Coronavirus resources on the SNA website, we have also begun a COVID-19 webinar series to bring you the information and resources you need now. All live and on-demand webinars in the COVID-19 series are provided free to non-members. 
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SNA COVID-19 Webinar Series

SNA is hosting a series of new webinars addressing COVID-19 to support school nutrition operators and industry partners. These webinars are free for both SNA members and non-members and will be archived for on-demand viewing in the Training Zone.

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H.R. 6201 Update - USDA Issues Nationwide Child Nutrition Waivers

In our efforts to keep you updated on activities related to COVID-19 and child nutrition programs, we wanted to share with you the most recent documents issued by USDA last night. Please see below and attached.

SNA continues in its discussions with Congress and USDA to advocate on your behalf and for the students you serve. We will continue to bring you the most up to date information as it becomes available.

Below are 3 nationwide waiver approval letters for states under Section 2202 of H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act related to Child Nutrition.

(1) Waiving of the non-congregate requirement across all child nutrition programs

-This waiver applies to the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and Summer Food Service Program.

(2) Waiving of the meal service time requirements across all child nutrition programs

-This waiver applies to the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and Summer Food Service Program.

(3) Waiving of the requirement for an educational or enrichment activity when serving an afternoon meal or snack under the National School Lunch Program or Child and Adult Care Food Program.

-This waiver applies to afterschool snacks in the National School Lunch Program and at-risk afterschool meals and snacks in the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

State agencies have been provided a copy of this guidance document on this provision. State agencies should contact their respective FNS Regional Offices with questions.

For additional information regarding FNS’s response to COVID-19, please visit this link.  

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Up To Date Resources

SNA is working to provide the most up-to-date information relevant to school nutrition professionals regarding coronavirus disease. In addition, we are communicating with the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service and Congress as the virus continues to spread throughout the United States. We have compiled a list of resources under Emergency Preparedness in the Learning Center, located here, that is constantly being updated as we receive new information.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Resources include information and interim guidance targeted to communities, schools and businesses and FAQs on coronavirus and children as well as healthcare professionals.

USDA

Resources include the most current list of states that have received waiver approvals, FAQs on child nutrition program meal service during COVID-19 outbreaks and Secretary Perdue’s press release announcing flexibilities to feed children when schools close.

World Health Organization (WHO)

Resources include a website, daily reports that confirm the total new cases, and key planning recommendations for mass gatherings.


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Food Supply Is Stable, Say Farmers, Retailers and Regulators

Federal meat inspectors, top grocery retailers, distributors and farm groups on Tuesday continued to stress that the food supply is holding steady as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 5,000, your host and Pro Ag's Catherine Boudreau write.

USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service, which is required by law to be present at more than 6,200 slaughterhouses across the country and employs about 7,800 inspectors, said plants are operating as normal.

Industry groups including the North American Meat Institute and USA Rice, whose products have been flying off store shelves, emphasized that there are no shortages and plentiful supplies. Fresh produce continues to flow across the Southern border from Mexico — which accounts for about 50 percent of the U.S. fruit and vegetable supply.

Retail chains like Walmart, Kroger and H-E-B have reduced store hours to give workers more time to restock high-demand products overnight, while Amazon is hiring an extra 100,000 warehouse workers to tackle increased demand for household staples, including groceries. 

"This is a demand issue, not a supply issue," said Heather Garlich, vice president of media and public relations at FMI, the food industry association formerly known as the Food Marketing Institute. "The supply chain isn't broken. The warehouses are pushing out as much inventory as possible in a 24-hour period."


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SNA Advocates for Guidance on Coronavirus Emergency Feeding

On Thursday, March 5th, SNA sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture advocating on behalf of members seeking guidance on emergency feeding procedures and additional options to safely serve their students in the event schools close due to Coronavirus. USDA provides guidance on using USDA Food during a pandemic. In addition, eligible School Food Authorities (SFAs) are currently allowed to serve students meals through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) during unanticipated school closures. However, several barriers prevent the effective use of this emergency feeding vehicle in the event of widespread coronavirus-related school closures. In the letter, SNA provides several suggestions for USDA’s consideration while developing a response plan including extending waiver language and program eligibility. Read more details in SNA’s letter.

Due to an abundance of care for our member’s health and safety, SNA will continue to seek the most up-to-date information about the virus. State and local public health departments are now testing and publicly reporting their cases. In the event of a discrepancy between CDC cases and cases reported by state and local public health officials, data reported by states should be considered the most up to date.


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Department of Labor Consumer Price Index Comment Request

The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics is soliciting comments concerning the proposed extension of the “Consumer Price Index (CPI) Commodities and Services Survey.” Changes in the CPI impact National School Lunch and Breakfast Program reimbursements. Comments due April 21, 2020. Learn More

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Bill May Fund School Nutrition Education Programs

The Food and Nutrition Education in Schools Act of 2020, a bipartisan bill introduced in the US Senate, would create a pilot program to fund projects that teach students about nutrition and connect them with healthful food practices. Priority in funding would be given to high-needs schools, including those in which 40% of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

Full Story: The Hill (2/13) 


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President Trump Releases Fiscal 2021 Budget Proposal

On February 10, 2020, the White House released the 2021 President’s Budget. The budget proposes cuts to several agencies, including an 8 percent reduction for the Agriculture Department, with the goal to lower federal spending by $4.4 trillion over the next decade. The President’s annual budget request kicks off the FY 2021 budget process. Next, Congress will hold hearings to question Administration officials about their requests and develop their own budget plan, called a “budget resolution.” SNA will continue to provide updates as developments occur. View SNA’s one-pager on the complete budget process for more information.

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Funds For Food Educators

Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) are teaming up on legislation aimed at helping teach young students about healthy eating. The measure, which the senators plan to introduce today, would offer grants to local education agencies to fund projects that include hiring full-time nutritional educators. Booker said in a statement that a lack of access to healthy food, especially in underserved communities, is frequently a detriment to academic performance.

Programs backed by grant funding under the bill would be required to incorporate hands-on activities for students like setting up school gardens, taste testing and farm-to-school efforts. The legislation would prioritize schools in neighborhoods with high rates of childhood diet-related illnesses or where 40 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

Kumar Chandran, policy director at FoodCorps, said the measure would help more kids "know what healthy food is, care where it comes from and eat it every day." The plan is also backed by the American Heart Association, the National Farm to School Network and other school and nutrition groups.

The backdrop: The bipartisan effort comes as the Agriculture Department is moving to chip away at school nutrition standards and crack down on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, including a rule that would cause some 982,000 low-income students to lose their automatic access to free school meals.

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The Forthcoming Block Grant Program Comes With A New Name

'Healthy Adult Opportunity' — but retains the original mission long sought by conservatives: allowing states to cap a portion of their spending on Medicaid, a radical change in how the safety net health program is financed." POLITICO

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SNA's Unpaid Meals Working Group Meets in Arlington

January 23rd and 24th, SNA hosted a two-day Unpaid Meals Working Group session attended by stakeholders from across the country. Participants worked together to define the source of and seek solutions for the growing national issue of unpaid school meal debt. Attendees included SNA members, USDA professionals, State Agency Directors and representatives of the Association of School Business Officials and The Superintendents Association. SNA recognizes that unpaid meal debt is a complex issue that must be addressed through cross-collaboration between all impacted parties. Hear updates on the unpaid meal debt effort at #LAC2020 and stay tuned for more resources including a white paper and advocacy strategies.

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Proposed School Meal Flexibilities: Read Summaries and Share Your Input

USDA recently released proposed regulations intended to simplify meal service and monitoring requirements in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. SNA has provided summaries and is collecting member feedbackon these proposed changes as it prepares the Association’s official comments in response to the proposed rule.

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SNA Summary on Proposed Rule on Summer Meal Flexibilities

On Friday, January 17, 2020, USDA announced a proposed rule titled “Streamlining Program Requirements and Improving Integrity in the Summer Food Service Program.” SNA has released a new summary of the proposal and is collecting SNA member feedback as the Public Policy and Legislation Committee prepares to discuss and draft the Association’s official comments in response to the rule.

Once SNA has submitted comments to USDA on the proposed rule, we will notify members, so you will have an opportunity to share the Association’s perspective as part of your own individual comments to USDA on the rule. SNA members are encouraged to review the summaryshare your input with SNA and stay tuned to SchoolNutrition.org for SNA’s official comments and the opportunity to have your voice heard as part of the rulemaking process.


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SNA Summary & Statement on Proposed Rule on School Meal Flexibilities

On Friday, January 17, 2020, during a roundtable discussion on school nutrition issues, US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the release of a proposed rule titled “Simplifying Meal Service and Monitoring Requirements in the National School Lunch and National School Breakfast Programs.” SNA has released a new summary of the proposal and is collecting SNA member feedback as the Public Policy and Legislation Committee prepares to discuss and draft the Association’s official comments in response to the rule.

Once SNA has submitted comments to USDA on the proposed rule, we will notify members, so you will have an opportunity to share the Association’s perspective as part of your own individual comments to USDA on the rule. In the meantime, SNA has released a statement addressing key issues and clarifying misconceptions about the proposed changes to school meal patterns.

SNA members are encouraged to review the summary and statementshare your input with SNA and stay tuned to SchoolNutrition.org for SNA’s official comments and the opportunity to have your voice heard as part of the rulemaking process.

SNA is finalizing a summary of the proposed rule on summer meal flexibilities and will share it with members next week.


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Plant-Based Diets

The chancellor of Texas A&M University requested that Harvard University investigate two of its nutrition researchers for their involvement with a group that promotes plant-based diets as part of a healthy lifestyle. The chancellor's request follows a report in JAMA last week documenting how the True Health Initiative called for the retraction of a recent study that determined the scientific evidence on red meat consumption is too weak to recommend adults eat less of it — fueling a debate over conflicts of interest and the quality of nutrition research.

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School Nutrition Official Expects Less Food Waste Under New Rules

The USDA's new nutrition standards for school lunches should help curb food waste by requiring smaller portions of fruits and vegetables, says Doug Wordell, nutrition services director for Spokane Public Schools in Washington state. Registered dietitian Natalie Tauzin, a policy and systems advocate with the Spokane Regional Health District, says giving students more time to eat and letting them have recess before lunch also can reduce food waste.

The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.) (free content) (1/17) 


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Meat Recalls

Meanwhile, the total number of recalls of FDA-regulated products like produce, seafood and processed foods have dropped —particularly after new Food Safety Modernization Act rules took effect in 2016. Since that year, recalls fell by 34 percent to 517. Of that total, 173 were Class I. 

"[T]he contrasting trends in food safety between the two agencies make it clear additional action is necessary, especially as Americans continue to eat significant amounts of meat," U.S. PIRG said in the report. The group noted that even though the total number of poultry and pork recalls didn't rise last year, they encompassed a larger volume of product compared with 2018 — potentially exposing a greater number of consumers to harm.

Eradicating salmonella in meat: Over the weekend, well-known food safety lawyer Bill Marler and several consumer advocacy groups (not including U.S. PIRG) requested that USDA classify salmonella — the most common foodborne pathogen — as an adulterant. This would give the department the authority to issue mandatory recalls and stop inspection lines, the Washington Post reported.

USDA has previously denied two similar petitions, in part due to a 2001 court case that ruled the department didn't have the authority to shut down meatpacking plants over repeated salmonella contamination because it is a naturally occurring bacteria that can be killed during cooking.


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Bill to Reduce Food Waste

House members filed a bipartisan bill to reduce food waste in school cafeterias through a new USDA grant program. The World Wildlife Fund estimates that U.S. schools waste about $1.7 billion or 540,000 tons of food per year, not counting milk.

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Dietary Guidelines on Deck

USDA and HHS this year will publish the latest edition of the government's official advice for eating healthy, updated every five years. Among the issues to watch: A new coalition of low-carb advocates is pushing for the 2020 guidelines to highlight the benefits of cutting back on foods like pasta and bread.

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New FDA Rules for Food Labeling Took Effect on Jan. 1, Requiring More Nutritional Info on Packaging

Food makers are now required to show a side-by-side comparison of the nutritional value of a single serving versus an entire package, reports POLITICO's Oma Seddiq.The agency will allow exemptions for packaged food products that aren't big enough to display the newly required information.

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Federal Register: SY2020-2021 Income Eligibility Guidelines

The USDA has posted income eligibility guidelines to be used in determining eligibility for free and reduced price meals and free milk effective from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

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