Tuesday Morning - January 17, 2017

An Update on Federal and State Policy Issues
from SNA

Table of Contents

Federal Policy

SNA President Invited to Provide Input on Dietary Guidelines
SNA Preps for USDA Appointments 
Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Says Goodbyem
Advocacy in the New Year (and 3 Things to Do Now)
Continuation of Demonstration Project for Summer Meals Non-Congregate Feeding
Schools as Nutrition Hubs: A Joint Project Between SNF and Share Our Strength
Presidential Champions Program Joins SuperTracker
USDA Releases Memo Outlining Flexibility for Target 2 Sodium Requirements for 2017-18

State Snapshots

Child Nutrition Bills in the States

Mark Your Calendars

SNA's Upcoming Webinars
FRAC’s Meals Matter Conference Call

Cafeteria Chat Corner


Federal Policy

SNA President Invited to Provide Input on Dietary Guidelines

On January 10, 2017, SNA President Becky Domokos-Bays, PhD, RD, SNS, participated in a public workshop hosted by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Committee to Review the Process to Update the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Domokos-Bays was invited to discuss the implementation of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) and challenges school foodservice directors face as they develop their menus and programs to align with the DGAs. Some of her comments included:

“School nutrition professionals have a unique perspective to offer – we are on the forefront of the effort to turn these Dietary Guidelines into lifelong dietary habits for future generations.”

“School nutrition professionals are proud to work alongside the DGA Committee, health and nutrition groups, parents and other advocates in promoting healthy lifestyles for children. As we all work together to achieve this goal, we want to avoid having the quest for the perfect diet become a roadblock to progress in improving our children’s dietary choices.”

You can read Domokos-Bays’ full comments here.

For more information on the workshop, view the full agenda or visit The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s website.

SNA Preps for USDA Appointments

With each change of U.S President, new appointments are made for high-level positions at various federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). SNA has a tradition of suggesting names for consideration for certain positions. In October, an Ad Hoc Committee was named to identify potential candidates, determine interest, and select names to recommend. In December, the Ad Hoc Committee reviewed nominations for more than two dozen candidates. At press time, SNA had sent letters of recommendation for Mary Begalle, PhD, MBA, SNS (for Undersecretary) and Kathleen (Katie) Millett, LDN (for Deputy Undersecretary).

Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Says Goodbye

Last Friday, January 13, was Tom Vilsack’s last day as Secretary of Agriculture and he used the time to pen a touching farewell to staff.

“Your work allows America to have the most productive farmers, ranchers, and producers in the world. Your work protects our families from unsafe food and our homes from dangerous forest fires. Your work ensures that struggling families have enough to eat and our school children have more nutritious meals and snacks.” … “Each of you and those who have come before you are part of an extraordinary group of people who proudly and honorably serve the greatest nation on earth.”

President-elect Trump has still not named a Secretary of Agriculture to serve in his cabinet. The post remains the last cabinet position to be filled.

Advocacy in the New Year (and 3 Things to Do Now)

In 2016, school nutrition advocates sent 17,297 messages to Congress, had more than 400 meetings with their legislators and hosted many of them in their own school cafeterias. As a key Congressional Committee staffer recently said, “The School Lunch Ladies have such power. If we have them screaming about issues, that would be awesome.”

2017 brings us a major shift in Administration and Congress. We know you are paying attention to what this might mean for the future of school meal programs and that you are eager to get involved. Following, are some immediate steps you can take. These should only take a few minutes and will set the stage for another powerful year.

  1. Be Informed
    Encourage your colleagues to sign up for Tuesday Morning , SNA’s weekly newsletter providing bite-sized policy news straight to your inbox.

    You can also register on the SNA Action Network, which ensures we have your latest contact information and that you receive critical action alerts when we most need you to contact your legislators.
  2. Participate
    The Position Paper Survey will be sent to all SNA members before the end of the month. We need to know about your top challenges so we can work together to shape public policy that addresses them.

    SNA’s Legislative Action Conference registration is open. Those in attendance will be able to access expert insights, gain tools and support to advocate for their programs, and meet face to face with their legislators.

    Consider donating to the SNA Political Action Committee (PAC). SNA Executive Board founded the PAC on the heels of the 1981 federal budget crisis that resulted in deep cuts in federal child nutrition program budgets. The goals behind the creation of the PAC still hold true today; to educate Congress, and to thank those who support our programs.
  3. Stay in Touch
    Our legislators have a lot of issues on their plate and they can’t be an expert in everything. Establishing contact and staying in touch through the year will make you their go-to person when they inevitably go looking for local data on school nutrition. Nervous about contacting your legislators? Start small. For a first step, save their local and Washington D.C. phone numbers in your cell phone to set the foundation for making advocacy calls a habit. A short phone call will prove that no matter how shiny their suits are, they’re just people.

Continuation of Demonstration Project for Summer Meals Non-Congregate Feeding

In 2017, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) will be continuing the 2015 and 2016 demonstration project allowing non-congregate feeding at certain outdoor summer meal sites experiencing excessive heat, according to a memo released on January 3rd. Under the demonstration project, Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option (SSO) sponsors operating approved outdoor meal sites without temperature-controlled alternative sites may operate as non-congregate sites on days when the area is experiencing excessive heat. The project is utilized to develop and test alternative methods of providing access to summer meals for low income children, allows for continued data collection, and allows for the continuation of increased access to nutritious meals. The memo outlines how to apply for participation in the demonstration project and participation requirements, as well as a Q&A. Interested parties are directed to contact their local state agency.

Schools as Nutrition Hubs: A Joint Project Between SNF and Share Our Strength

The School Nutrition Foundation (SNF) and Share Our Strength are partnering on “Schools as Nutrition Hubs,” a project designed to support foodservice operators working to ensure children in their communities have access to all available school nutrition programs. The team has interviewed a number of operators in order to develop a resource to highlight the benefits of operating a Nutrition Hub, which can boost revenue and operations while combating hunger in communities. Read up on the initial brief and stay tuned for next steps as our work will continue on this exciting project. More case studies from this project are coming soon!

Presidential Champions Program Joins SuperTracker

The SuperTracker is a free online tool that tracks daily food intake and activity. Millions of people use the USDA’s SuperTracker, which is based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans , to improve eating habits, manage weight, and reduce risk of chronic disease. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and USDA announced through a press release on January 10th, that the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition’s (PCFSN) Presidential Champions Program will be incorporated in the tool as well. Now, anyone with a SuperTracker account can participate in the Presidential Champions Program by either manually logging in their daily physical activity, or syncing their FitBits to the account, and will be recognized with awards for their efforts. The gamification of the tool, or the application of points and achievements to non-game contexts, is seen as another way to motivate Americans to continue working toward their health goals.

USDA Releases Memo Outlining Flexibility for Target 2 Sodium Requirements for 2017-18

On January 6, 2017, USDA released a memo, SP 15-2017, to regional and state directors regarding flexibility for the Target 2 sodium requirements for School Year 2017-18. As you may know, Target 2 sodium requirements are scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2017. To help address some challenges with meeting Target 2 reduction, USDA is offering some flexibility. School food authorities (SFAs) are expected to comply, however if SFAs that are working toward compliance, but not fully in compliance will NOT incur fiscal action during administrative reviews.

During the period of flexibility, USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) plans to continue to gather ongoing challenges in order to develop technical assistance. Review the memo SP 15-2017 for further guidance.

State Snapshots

Child Nutrition Bills in the States

Kentucky and Mississippi have started the new year off with child nutrition on their radar. Summaries of the bills introduced and links to the status page follow.

KENTUCKY
SB 1

Introduced 1/3/2017
Requires school districts to develop and implement a personnel evaluation system and academic standards review. Non-compliance will result in a fine of competitive food revenues anywhere from one week’s revenue to ban of sale for 6 months. Funds collected will be disbursed through the food service fund of the local school district.

MISSISSIPPI
HB 103

Introduced 1/3/2017
Requires school districts to serve low-fat meals and snacks to students diagnosed as overweight and to those students whose parents have requested it.

HB 104
Introduced 1/3/2017
Requires school cafeterias to prepare menus in strict compliance with federal nutrition standards and to clearly display the nutritional guide chart of the food pyramid.

Mark Your Calendars

SNA Webinars

Learn about hot topics in school nutrition and earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) with SNA’s popular professional development webinars. Participation in each of the following webinars is worth 1 SNA CEU.

Best of #SNIC17 1 of 3: Fats in Vogue, Wheat Woes, Uh-oh GMOs
Wednesday, February 8, 2017, 2:00 pm EST
Join Dr. Jim Painter for a fresh take on some of the biggest trends in the food industry! In case, you don’t make it to SNIC 2017 be sure to attend this webinar to broaden your perspectives on the latest information and research on fats, the gluten-free movement and the use of GMOs in our foods.

Blueberry Council Webinar
Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 2:00 pm EST
Registration and more details coming soon!

Best of #SNIC17 2 of 3: Kellogg’s Innovative Solution
Wednesday, March 8, 2017, 2:00 pm EST
Registration and more details coming soon!

Ask the Allergist
Wednesday, March 15, 2017, 2:00 pm EST
Registration and more details coming soon!

FRAC’s Meals Matter Conference Call

On Thursday, January 19, 2017, at 1:00 pm EST, the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) will host the conference call, Working with Food Banks. With vast networks and programmatic expertise, food banks can be great partners to work with on expanding the reach of the Afterschool Nutrition Programs. From promotion to sponsoring, food banks have a role to play in ensuring children have access to meals when the school day ends. Hear from food banks and advocates on ways to collaborate this school year on the child nutrition programs.

Cafeteria Chat Corner

Countdown to the Inauguration: 3 Days! 
Fun Facts: It has become tradition for the outgoing President to leave a note in the Oval Office for the incoming President. Though not all of these letters have been made public, George H.W Bush’s letter to Bill Clinton has gone viral in years past. The letter read:
“Dear Bill, When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know you will feel that too. I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described. There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course. You will be our president when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well. Your success is now our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you. Good luck, George”.

 

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