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From the Kitchen to the Congress: A Child Nutrition Reauthorization Blog

School Nutrition Summit Includes Agriculture & Education Officials, White House Assistant Chef

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School lunch was the topic of discussion last Friday as several key Obama administration officials participated in a discussion and cafeteria site visit organized by SNA at Weyanoke Elementary School in Alexandria, Va. Penny McConnell, Director of Food and Nutrition Services for Fairfax County Public Schools hosted the event, with SNA Executive Director Barbara Belmont, SNA Child Nutrition and Policy staff and SNA counsel facilitating the event. Using her experience and expertise in child nutrition, McConnell discussed the struggles that school nutrition programs face and the successes they have had in improving childhood nutrition. Topics included the need for increased funding, balancing students tastes with good nutrition, incorporating locally grown and fresh items, and addressing food allergies.

White House Assistant Chef, Sam Kass attended the meeting and participated in the discussion. Several USDA and Department of Education officials were involved in the discussion as well including:

  • Christie Vilsack, wife of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
  • Karen Duncan, wife of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
  • Dr. Janey Thornton, Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Matthew Yale, Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Department of Education
  • Massie Ritsch, Deputy Assistant Secretary for External Affairs and Outreach, U.S. Department of Education

Several Congressional staff members were also in attendance, along with senior staff members from both the USDA and Department of Education.

This meeting was a tremendous opportunity to discuss the challenges facing the school nutrition programs with key policy makers.  Congress is likely to begin work on Child Nutrition Reauthorization in the next few months.  Last Friday’s cafeteria site visit and discussion provided SNA with strong access to these important individuals, allowing them to enjoy a school lunch and witness first hand the importance of these programs.

Kitchen Cabinet Sits Down for Lunch - Washington Post

Senate Approves Agriculture Appropriations Bill, Extending Current Reauthorization

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The United States Senate voted on Thursday, October 8, 2009 to approve the agriculture appropriations conference bill by a vote of 76-22.  The legislation passed the House of Representatives earlier in the week.  President Barack Obama is expected to sign the measure soon.

Under this bill, the current Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act is extended for one year. The legislation also allocates $25 million in funds for equipment assistance grants for school nutrition programs.  School nutrition programs that did not originally receive grants through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are eligible to apply.