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Tuesday Morning - April 19, 2011

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April 19, 2011

Table of Contents

House, Senate Agriculture Committees Plan to Write Farm Bill in 2012

House Education and Workforce Chair Sends Letter to USDA on the Meal Pattern Requirement Implementation

School Food Revolution: The Healthy Changes You Haven’t Seen on TV

SNA Joins Organizations Opposing Approved FY2012 Budget Resolution

SNA Signs onto Letter Supporting FIT Kids Act

Arkansas Legislature Passes Law on Provision 2 and Elimination of Reduced Price Category

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House, Senate Agriculture Committees Plan to Write Farm Bill in 2012

Leaders of both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees say they plan to write the Farm Bill in 2012. Committee leaders say they are waiting until 2012 to write the legislation in order to allow Congress to determine the Fiscal Year 2013 budget.

While the federal school nutrition programs are not a focus of the Farm Bill, SNA is advocating for the inclusion of funding for school breakfast commodities – also known as USDA Foods. SNA is calling on Congress to include 10 cents per breakfast in USDA commodities in the next Farm Bill. Currently, the school breakfast program does not receive any support through commodities.

House Education and Workforce Chair Sends Letter to USDA on the Meal Pattern Requirement Implementation

Last week, House Education and the Workforce Chairman John Kline (R-MN) sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, commenting on implementation of the new meal pattern requirements. In the letter, Representative Kline notes that he is concerned the new meal pattern requirements will “impose unwarranted costs and unmanageable requirements on school districts.” Representative Kline is also writes that he is concerned about the feasibility of the proposed nutrition standards. Among his concerns are the ability of school nutrition programs to meet the new sodium limits, the lack of prior testing to ensure students will consume meals meeting the new requirements, and the possibility of increased plate waste. To remedy these concerns, Representative Kline encourages USDA to withdraw the proposed meal pattern guidelines.

To read the complete letter, please visit the link below.

Letter from Representative Kline to Secretary Vilsack 

School Food Revolution: The Healthy Changes You Haven’t Seen on TV

Despite limited resources and rising food costs, school nutrition programs across the country have made tremendous progress in offering healthier meals in school cafeterias. But don’t expect to see these successes on television – good news about school meals just doesn’t bring in the ratings.

School Nutrition Association’s 2010 Back to School Trends Report found that schools are serving more whole grains and fresh produce, while working to reduce added sodium and sugar in foods served on the lunch line. Many school districts are bringing in more locally-grown produce, encouraging extra helpings of fruits and vegetables or offering salad bars. To get kids excited about these healthy choices, schools are experimenting with kids cooking competitions, partnerships with local chefs and nutrition education programs.

Many schools are cooking up more menu items from scratch, and schools with limited ability to scratch cook, due to staffing, equipment or cost challenges, are using higher quality pre-prepared foods. Food companies have been using leaner meats, more whole grains and less salt and sugar to make the pre-prepared foods served in schools healthier than ever. These days, baked sweet potato “fries” or wedges are common choices, while school pizza is often served on whole grain crust with low-fat cheese and low-sodium sauce. Meanwhile, local dairies have been working with school nutrition programs to reduce the fat and sugar in flavored milk choices, which leading health and nutrition organizations support keeping in schools.

These changes are being achieved through the perseverance of school nutrition professionals who must contend with paltry budgets, burdensome regulations, strict food safety standards or insufficient equipment and support. Often, critics of school nutrition programs and advocates for healthier food choices fail to acknowledge these cost constraints and the complexity of the rules governing the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

Over the next several weeks, School Nutrition Association will issue a series of articles highlighting the School Food Revolution occurring nationwide and the ways schools have raised the bar for school meals.

SNA Joins Organizations Opposing Approved FY2012 Budget Resolution

SNA has joined several hundred organizations opposing the FY2012 budget resolution approved by the House of Representatives Budget Committee. The resolution makes significant cuts to several important programs for low-income Americans. While the federal child nutrition programs are not included in the cuts, funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would be turned into a block grant program with limited funding. Other programs facing significant cuts include Medicaid, housing assistance, and education programs. The letter asks members of the House of Representatives to vote against the budget resolution.

To read the full letter, please visit the link below.

Budget Resolution Letter 

SNA Signs onto Letter Supporting FIT Kids Act

SNA has joined several other organizations and companies voicing support for S. 576/H.R. 1057, the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act of 2011. The bill will increase children’s physical activity throughout the school day, while teaching kids the value of leading healthy and active lives. If passed, the legislation would integrate physical activity into existing school programs, including afterschool activities.

The legislation is sponsored in the Senate by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and in the House by Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Jim Gerlach (R-PA). To read the complete letter, please visit the link below.

 FIT Kids Act Sign On Letter 

Arkansas Legislature Passes Law on Provision 2 and Elimination of Reduced Price Category

The Arkansas legislature passed an amendment to the state “Special Needs Funding” (also known as the NSLA State Categorical Funding), allowing school districts to use these funds to pay for:

  • The elimination of the reduced price meal category for eligible students participating in the program, and;
  • The required cost differential (replacement of uncollected student payments) from local district funds in order to participate in the Provision 2 Alternative.

 

The legislation does not require school districts to use the funding to pay for these programs. Instead, it leaves the decision up to the local school district to determine how the funds will be used. Please visit the link below to see the complete bill.

Act 1220


 
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