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SNA Commends Military Leaders for Supporting Increased Funds for School Meals

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner
301-686-3124 Ext.
media@schoolnutrition.org

SNA Commends Military Leaders for Supporting Increased Funds for School Meals

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (April 20, 2010) – School Nutrition Association (SNA) commends a group of decorated military leaders, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for their support for increased funding for school nutrition programs.

The announcement came as Mission: Readiness (pdf), an organization of retired senior military leaders, released a report highlighting the growing number of young adults who are too overweight to join the military. As a critical first step toward addressing this problem, Mission: Readiness called on Congress to pass Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation, including the Obama Administration’s recommendation of a $1 billion per year increase for child nutrition programs.

Mission: Readiness also called for the adoption of the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations to update nutrition standards for foods sold in school. SNA supports these recommendations and has been a vocal advocate of the need for comprehensive nutrition guidelines for all foods sold in school, including “competitive” foods offered in vending machines, school stores and a la carte lines.

School meals already meet federal nutrition standards to limit fat and saturated fat and provide critical vitamins, nutrients and proteins in age-appropriate portion sizes. And although federal nutrition standards do not exist for “competitive” foods, many school districts nationwide have taken significant steps to ensure they are healthy options as well.

SNA’s 2009 School Nutrition Operations Report found that nationwide, nearly every school district offers students fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and salad bars or pre-packaged salads, and nearly all school districts prepare at least some of their bakery items, entrees or side dishes from scratch.

However, school nutrition programs operate on extremely limited budgets. As schools work to offer students an even greater variety of healthy foods, they need additional funds not only to pay for the food, but also additional refrigeration capacity, steamers, labor and other expenses.

Congress must also support nutrition education to help teach students why they should chose these healthy options when they are served in school and at home. SNA’s legislative priorities for reauthorization (pdf) and partnership with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign call for the development of nutrition education curriculum, physical activity and a coordinated approach to school health.

“Schools have already made tremendous strides in offering children healthy food options, but it will take the support of the entire community from parents, to our military leaders to Members of Congress, voting to fund these critical efforts, to turn around the childhood obesity crisis,” said SNA President Dora Rivas Rivas, Executive Director of Food and Child Nutrition Services for the Dallas Independent School District in Texas.

SNA is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 53,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. The Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals. Founded in 1946, SNA is the only association devoted exclusively to protecting and enhancing children’s health and well being through school meals and sound nutrition education.

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