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Tuesday Morning - March 9, 2011

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March 9, 2011

Table of Contents

Special LAC Edition

 

LAC Highlights

USDA Secretary Vilsack Addressed LAC Attendees

The Silent Hero Grant

USDA Kicks Off National Nutrition Month and Team Nutrition Training Grants

USDA FNS Announces New HealthierUS School Challenge Winners

First Lady Holds Conference Call on HealthierUS Schools Challenge

In Every Issue

SNA Legislative Action Center

Legislative Toolkit

LAC Highlights

On the heels of the late December passage of the long-awaited child nutrition reauthorization legislation, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, and the recent release of even-longer-in-development proposed regulations for nutrition standards in school meals, an astounding number of school nutrition professionals, industry partners and other advocates have returned to Washington, D.C., once again, gathering for the School Nutrition Association’s 39th Legislative Action Conference (LAC). The annual gathering, boasting an estimated 850 attendees this year, kicked off on Sunday, March 6, 2011.

Evidence of the growing political influence of SNA and its members was marked not only by its success in getting reauthorization passed last year; not only by the absence of any proposals to cut school nutrition programs in a period of dramatic and contentious congressional spending cuts; not only by its record-breaking LAC registration; but by the caliber of its 2011 LAC speakers, led this year by Former U.S. President Bill Clinton. As Monday’s Special Guest Speaker, President Clinton was warmly welcomed by a large and enthusiastic crowd. While expressing gratitude to the passion and dedication of the nation’s school nutrition professionals, Clinton acknowledged the frustrations they face in managing complex programs: “The system is rigged against you serving healthy school meals.”

The former president was grave as he detailed disturbing trends in overweight and obesity in the United States and across the globe, and Clinton was frank about how his own struggles with heart disease led to his collaboration with the American Heart Association in the establishment of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation in 2005. He revealed details of a new multi-industry voluntary agreement among foodservice manufacturers and other organizations designed to help school nutrition operations meet new nutrition standards. Clinton also described the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program, and encouraged attendees to check out the many online tools that have been developed specifically to assist school nutrition professionals.

Noting that he will be eligible for Medicaid upon his 65th birthday later this year, Clinton asserted, “The longer I live, the more I become obsessed with people younger than I am having the same chances I did.” He also expressed his appreciation for school nutrition professionals. “I’m really grateful for what you do—and I know you know this issue better than I do,” he credited, adding, however, that “the more you know, the greater your responsibilities.”

LAC also is an important occasion for dialogue between school nutrition advocates and representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), which has oversight of the federal child nutrition programs. FNS staffers face extremely busy months ahead - implementing the new law and issuing final meal pattern regulations following the end of the proposed rule comment period next month. USDA/FNS Deputy Under Secretary Dr. Janey Thornton, SNS, an SNA past president, urged school nutrition professionals to keep up the momentum in explaining to others the breadth of challenges they face in managing these complex programs. “You need to tell your stories not just here in D.C., but back at home. You need to tell it at church, in your communities, everywhere.”

For more LAC highlights, please visit: www.schoolnutrition.org/Blog.aspx?id=15130&blogid=622

USDA Secretary Vilsack Addressed LAC Attendees

This morning, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack addressed LAC attendees and answered a variety of questions, comments and concerns after his speech. Secretary Vilsack commended School Nutrition professionals for their dedication to improving school meal programs nationwide. He also commented on the importance of serving well-balanced meals because for many students, nutritious food may not come from anywhere else.

Secretary Vilsack alluded to a childhood that was not perfect but was made better at lunchtime by a simple lunch packed by his mother, at a time when school lunch programs did not exist. Secretary Vilsack said that “we are trying to get people to understand that this is not just 15-20 minutes of the day, school lunch is a really important part of the day.”

Additionally, the recipes chosen to advance in First Lady Michelle Obama's Recipes for Healthy Kids competition were announced and Secretary Vilsack encouraged the audience to vote for their favorite recipe until May 15, 2011. Recipes for Healthy Kids competition began last September and challenged teams of school nutrition professionals, chefs, students, and community members to develop nutritious, and kid-approved recipes that schools can easily incorporate into National School Lunch Programs.

Fifteen recipes were chosen to move forward in the competition from schools in 11 states, including Arizona, South Carolina, Florida, California, Massachusetts, Colorado, North Carolina, Minnesota, Ohio, New Mexico, and Connecticut. The top ten recipes in each category will be published in Recipes for Healthy Kids Cookbook.

For more on the Challenge and winners, please visit: www.recipesforkidschallenge.com.

The Silent Hero Grant

The Silent Hero Grant Program, provided by the got breakfast? Foundation, will award grants up to $5,000 to create, support and expand Summer Nutrition Programs. Public schools, non-profit private schools, local governments, National Youth Sports Programs or 501 (c) (3) non-profit organizations participating in the federal Summer Nutrition Program who serve breakfast are eligible to apply. Grant winners must also be willing to provide progress reports during the duration of the program.

The mission of the got breakfast? Foundation is to ensure that every child, regardless of background, starts the school day with a nutritious breakfast in order to learn, grow and develop to their fullest potential. Additionally, got breakfast? aims to increase access to breakfast programs to help fight obesity, raise test scores and improve overall health.

Finalists will be notified by May 1, 2011 and will be asked to sign a Memorandum of Understanding that delineates the requirements for the grant. All applications must be submitted through the Foundation’s website by 5:00 PM EST on April 15, 2011.

For additional information, to complete RFA and application visit: www.gotbreakfast.org

USDA Kicks Off National Nutrition Month and Team Nutrition Training Grants

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack kicked off National Nutrition Month by announcing the availability of Team Nutrition Training Grants for Healthy Meals to states to help children develop healthy eating and physical activity habits for healthier lifestyles. USDA's nutrition assistance programs touched the lives of 1 in 4 Americans last year, including the nearly 32 million kids that participate in school meal programs every school day.

“We know that to win the future, we have to win the race to educate our children and that means that our kids must have access to nutritious meals and healthy lifestyles,” said Vilsack. “These grants provide states important new resources, technical assistance and flexibility to help schools and daycare settings raise the bar for our kids so that they can reach their full potential.”

USDA will be investing $5.5 million in grants with approximately $2.5 million set aside to provide non-competitive grants (up to $50,000) to each State Agency that commits to specific strategies to increase the number of HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) applications submitted for approval. Up to $350,000 may be requested to include both competitive and non-competitive grants.

Team Nutrition is a key component in USDA's efforts to improve the nutrition, health and well being of children. This funding provides training and technical assistance to school nutrition professionals to help them prepare and serve nutritious and appealing meals, provide fun and interactive nutrition education for children, teachers, parents and caregivers in childcare settings and build school and community support for creating healthy school environments.

During National Nutrition Month in March, USDA encourages people to include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat milk in their daily meals. These recommendations are included in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans that were recently released by USDA and HHS, which focuses on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. Through its 16 nutrition assistance programs, USDA also promotes access, resources and pathways for low-income Americans to lead a more healthful lifestyle.

More information on the Team Nutrition Training Grants and how schools can become Team Nutrition schools is available at teamnutrition.usda.gov.

USDA FNS Announces New HealthierUS School Challenge Winners

The HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) is a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to end childhood obesity. Schools participating in the challenge adopt USDA standards for the food that they serve and provide nutrition education and opportunities for physical activity.

Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service introduced the HealthierUS School Challenge in 2004, 1,122 schools in 40 states (as of March 1, 2011) have achieved HUSSC designations. USDA is committed to growing this number to 1,250 schools by June 2011, an effort that SNA has pledged to support. The challenge features four award levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Gold Award of Distinction.Congratulations to the following schools, which achieved HUSSC designations in January and February 2011.

What is your school doing to work toward earning a HealthierUS School Challenge designation? Feel free to share your ideas by submitting a comment to this post. The May 2011 issue of School Nutrition will feature HUSSC best practices. For more information about the HealthierUS School Challenge, including criteria and an application, visit teamnutrition.usda.gov/healthierus/index.html.

For the list of winning schools, please visit: www.schoolnutrition.org/Blog

First Lady Holds Conference Call on HealthierUS Schools Challenge

First Lady Michelle Obama, along with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, held a conference call last week on the HealthierUS Schools Challenge. SNA President Nancy Rice was among those invited to the White House for the call. During the call, she sat directly across from Mrs. Obama.

During the call, Mrs. Obama strongly encouraged schools to participate in the HealthierUS Schools Challenge and outlined several incentives. Secretary Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture would award $5.5 million in Team Nutrition Training Grants for Healthy School Meals to provide training and technical assistance to schools to help them meet the challenge. For more information on the grants, please visit this link. teamnutrition.usda.gov/Grants/2011.html

Acknowledging that the physical education requirements of the award are often the most difficult for schools to meet, Secretary Duncan announced that his department will work on developing tools to help schools with this area. The First Lady also announced that a special reception will be held at the White House with representatives from each of the award winning schools.

The HealthierUS Schools Challenge is USDA’s “Blue Ribbon” program for school nutrition and fitness, as well as a key strategy for ensuring students have access to healthier food in school and are engaged in regular physical activity. The primary task of the school nutrition program in the HUSSC is ensuring that school menus are as nutritious as possible, incorporating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. To learn more about the HealthierUS School Challenge and to see how SNA members are participating, read the following stories on traytalk.org.

Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service introduced the HealthierUS School Challenge in 2004, 1,122 schools in 40 states (as of March 1, 2011) have achieved HUSSC designations. USDA is committed to growing this number to 1,250 schools by June 2011, an effort that SNA has pledged to support. The challenge features four award levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Gold Award of Distinction.


 
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