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Tuesday Morning - May 10, 2011

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May 10, 2011

Table of Contents

House Education and Workforce Committee to Hold Hearing on Federal Oversight of School Nutrition Programs

GAO Urges USDA to Strengthen Safety Standards for Foods Purchased for Schools

You Can Still Vote in the USDA Recipes for Healthy Kids Contest!

Florida Legislature Approves Moving School Nutrition Programs to Ag Department

Report Shows School Nutrition Programs Offering Healthier Food Items

USDA Launches Mobile Food Safety App

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House Education and Workforce Committee to Hold Hearing on Federal Oversight of School Nutrition Programs

The House Education and Workforce Committee will hold a hearing examining federal oversight of the school nutrition programs. The committee, chaired by Representative John Kline (R-MN), will hold the hearing at 10:00 AM on Friday, May 13, 2011. Witnesses have not been announced as of this time.

In April, Chairman Kline sent a letter asking Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to withdraw the proposed meal pattern requirements, noting that he is concerned the new meal pattern requirements will “impose unwarranted costs and unmanageable requirements on school districts.” Chairman Kline also writes that he is concerned about the feasibility of the proposed nutrition standards.

GAO Urges USDA to Strengthen Safety Standards for Foods Purchased for Schools

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report this week urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to strengthen its oversight of food purchased for schools. The report calls on USDA to develop a systemic and transparent process for determining food safety policies for foods purchased for the USDA Foods (formerly commodities) program.

The report found that USDA has established food safety standards that exceed federal regulations for commercial purchases for only 7 of 180 products purchased by the Department. The GAO report says that more stringent standards are needed for purchases of products like raw chicken. More stringent standards are already in place for ground beef products.

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

GAO Report on Food Safety for School Food Purchases

You Can Still Vote in the USDA Recipes for Healthy Kids Contest!

You can still vote for your favorite recipe for the Popular Choice award. The recipe that wins the Popular Choice award receives $1500 towards their school nutrition program. Please visit this link to view the nominated recipes. Voting ends May 31, 2011.

The Recipes for Healthy Kids Contest is a part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign. The 15 semi-finalists were selected from over 340 recipes submitted by schools across the country. The recipes were submitted in one of three categories: whole grains, dark green and orange vegetables, and dry beans and peas. The recipes will be judged on student involvement, nutrition, creativity and originality, ease of use in schools, and recipe presentation. In each category, the top five recipes were chosen as semi-finalists. Each of the semi-finalists will be visited by a team consisting of a USDA official, an American Culinary Federation chef, and a school nutrition professional to determine the three finalists to participate in a national cook-off this summer. Click here to see a blog post on the recipe contest from USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Janey Thornton on the school visits.

Florida Legislature Approves Moving School Nutrition Programs to Ag Department

Both the Florida House and Senate voted last week to move oversight of the federal school nutrition programs to the state Department of Agriculture. The National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program and the other federal school nutrition programs are currently administered by the state Department of Education. The legislation must now be signed by Florida Governor Rick Scott (R).

Once the governor signs the legislation, the state will need to apply for a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). If approved, Florida would join Texas and New Jersey as the only states with the school nutrition programs under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Agriculture. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (R) advocated for the change, arguing that the state Department of Agriculture is better equipped to link schools with Florida grown produce and other food items.

Legislature embraces moving Florida’s school food programs to Agriculture Department

Report Shows School Nutrition Programs Offering Healthier Food Items

A new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that U.S. middle and high schools are making strides in offering students healthier items. Schools are serving more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, while serving fewer French fries.

The report did note, however, that more than one-half of secondary students had access to less healthy snacks such as candy, chips, cookies and ice cream during school meals. Sugar sweetened beverages were also available to 71 percent of middle school students and 92 percent of high school students. These items were available through vending machines, a la carte lines and school stores. The report also faulted schools for failing to provide more opportunities for physical activity during the school day. The report was based on data from the 2006-07 and 2007-08 school years.

For additional information, please visit the link below.

U.S. Middle and High Schools Making Progress to Provide Healthier Lunches, Falling Short on Physical Activity

USDA Launches Mobile Food Safety App

USDA launched a new food safety application for smartphones. Mobile Ask Karen is a mobile app version of the food safety website. Consumers using the app will be able to find answers to questions about properly handling, storing and preparing food to prevent food-borne illness.

For additional information about the app, please click on the link below.

USDA Introduces Mobile Ask Karen, Food Safety on Your Smartphone


 
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