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Tuesday Morning - June 21, 2011

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June 21, 2011

Table of Contents

SNA/USDA Webinar Highlights

Appropriations Bill Slides Passed House

IL, KY and TN to Expand Access to School Meals for Children in Need

School Food Service Account Revenue Provisions

SNAP Reaches Highest Accuracy Rate in Program History

Finalists in Recipe for Healthy Kids Challenge Announced

In Every Issue

SNA Legislative Action Center

Legislative Toolkit

SNA/USDA Webinar Highlights

USDA, FNS Child Nutrition Director Cindy Long gave an informative webinar presentation on Sections 205 and 206 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act on Tuesday, June 14. A very useful Paid Lunch Equity (PLE) tool was unveiled to aid in calculating the new prices of lunch, based on current prices plus the 2% price increase and the rate of inflation. Cindy also explained how to keep costs at a minimum through non-Federal funding sources, such as in-kind contributions and a la carte sales.

Revenue from nonprogram foods was also discussed. Cindy defined nonprogram food to be a food sold in a participating school, other than a reimbursable meal, which is purchased using funds from the school food service account. Revenue from these items will have to be monitored and all SFAs must make a “good faith effort to comply” to the requirements. Because of the review requirements, FNS is updating CRE and ME guidance.

An unprecedented number of participants registered for the USDA/SNA webinar, which attests to the importance of these two provisions and the great need for clarification. There will be even more time to learn about Sections 205 and 206 at the Annual National Conference in Nashville on Tuesday, July 12 from 9:45 – 10:45AM.

The entire webinar is available on the School Nutrition Association website at: www.schoolnutrition.org/Content.aspx?id=15533

Appropriations Bill Slides Passed House

The House narrowly approved the FY2012 Agriculture spending bill by a vote of 217-203. “While making smart yet significant cuts to save taxpayer dollars, the Agriculture Appropriations bill also funds several important and necessary government programs, including agriculture research, rural development, and safety-net food and nutrition programs,” stated Chairman Hal Rogers.

Mandatory food and nutrition programs within the USDA, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and child nutrition, are funded at nearly $90 billion, $2 billion less than the President’s request. This funding will allow all those who meet the programs’ criteria for aid to receive all the benefits available to them. It also includes $3 billion in surplus funds in case of unanticipated increases in participation or food prices. Child nutrition programs will receive $18.8 billion in mandatory funding, which is $1.5 billion over last year’s level. This funding will help provide low-income students with free or reduced price meals at school. In addition, the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program is funded at $6.05 billion. This is a reduction of $685.7 million from last year, but the bill allows the Secretary to utilize FY 2011 carryover funds, $125 million in contingency funds, and other funding options currently authorized in law to allow participants to continue to receive the benefits for which they qualify. The action will now go to the Senate for voting.

For more information, visit: appropriations.house.gov/UploadedFiles/6.13.11_FY_12_Agriculture_Conference_Summary.pdf

IL, KY and TN to Expand Access to School Meals for Children in Need Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee were selected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to participate in the pilot year of a new universal free meal service option that makes it easier for low-income children to receive meals in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The "Community Eligibility Option" will allow schools in high-poverty areas to eliminate the applications process and provide free breakfast and lunch to all students.

"Community eligibility is a great way for schools to cut through burdensome red tape for themselves and low-income families so that children in high-poverty areas have access to the nutrition they need to learn and thrive," said Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon. "Schools will benefit from reduced paperwork, parents will not have to fill out duplicative forms, and children in need will get better access to healthy school meals."

The Community Eligibility Option will be offered to additional states in the coming years, and will be available to all states beginning in the 2014-15 school year. The law calls for USDA to select states “with an adequate number and variety of schools and local educational agencies that could benefit from” the Community Eligibility option.

For more information, please visit: www.fns.usda.gov

School Food Service Account Revenue Provisions

The interim rule for equity in school lunch pricing and revenue received from nonprogram foods, as part of the National School Lunch Program, has been released to conform to the new standards set in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. This rule requires school food authorities to provide the same level of financial support for lunches served to students who are not eligible for free or reduced price lunches to students eligible for free lunches. This rule also requires that all foods purchased with funds from the school food service account must generate revenue of an equal or greater value than the cost of such foods. The rule is effective starting July 1, 2011.

For further information or to submit comments, contact Julie Brewer, Chief, Policy and Program Development Branch, Child Nutrition Division, Food and Nutrition Service, 3101 Park Center Drive, Alexandria, Virginia 22302, or by fax at (703) 305-2879. Comments must be submitted by September 15.

To read the complete rule, visit: http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2011/06/17/2011-14926/national-school-lunch-program-school-food-service-account-revenue-amendments-related-to-the-healthy

SNAP Reaches Highest Accuracy Rate in Program History

The national average level of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payment accuracy for FY 2010 is 96.19 percent, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack. The accuracy rate for FY 2010 is at an all time high and stresses the Administration’s ongoing effort to make government more accountable to the American people.

“The Obama administration has made it clear that we will track down and eliminate misspent tax dollars in every agency and department across the federal government,” said Vilsack. “USDA and our state agency partners have done just that in achieving historically high accuracy rates in SNAP and we will continue to make improvements that protect taxpayer dollars while putting healthy food on the table for struggling individuals and families.”

Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon announced that for FY2010, SNAP had a national payment error rate of 3.81 percent, the lowest in its history, down from over four percent in 2009. Florida had the highest accuracy rate with only 0.78 percent error, followed by South Dakota with 1.31 percent error.

For more, visit: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cga/PressReleases/2011/0256.htm

Finalists in Recipe for Healthy Kids Challenge Announced

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the finalists in First Lady Michelle Obama's Recipes for Healthy Kids Challenge, a national contest to promote healthy eating among children. The first place recipes from the categories of Whole Grains, Dark Green and Orange Vegetables and Dry Beans and Peas will compete for the grand prize at a national cook-off event during the American Culinary Federation National Convention in late July.

The first, second and runner-up winning recipes and schools for each category are:

Whole Grains

  • First Place: Porcupine Sliders, Intermediate District 287, South Education Center Alternative, Richfield, Minn.
  • Second Place: Chic' Penne, Harold S. Winograd K-8 School, Greeley, Colo.
  • Runner-up: Mediterranean Quinoa Salad, Bellingham (Mass.) Memorial Middle School
    Dark Green and Orange Vegetables
  • First Place: Central Valley Harvest Bake, Joshua Cowell School, Manteca, Calif.
  • Second Place: Stir-Fry Fajita Chicken, Squash and Corn, Monument Valley High School, Kayenta (Ariz.) Unified School District
  • Runner-up: Crunchy Hawaiian Chicken Wrap, Mount Lebanon Elementary School, Pendleton, S.C.
    Dry Beans and Peas
  • First Place: Tuscan Smoked Turkey & Bean Soup, Ira B. Jones Elementary School, Asheville, N.C.
  • Second Place: Lentils of the Southwest, Sweeney Elementary School, Santa Fe (N.M.) Public Schools
  • Runner-up: Confetti Soup, Burke Middle and High School, Charleston County (S.C.) School District

 

USDA and the First Lady launched the Recipes for Healthy Kids competition last September, challenging teams of school nutrition professionals, chefs, students and community members to develop creative, nutritious and kid-approved recipes that schools can easily incorporate into National School Lunch Program menus. The contest is a component of the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative.

The public also had the opportunity to vote on their favorite selection in the Popular Choice Award. The honoree for the Popular Choice Award, Tasty Tots from Bellingham (Mass.) Memorial Middle School, will receive $1,500.

To recognize and share the culinary creativity nationwide, the top 10 recipes in each category will be published in Recipes for Healthy Kids Cookbook.


 
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