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Tuesday Morning - October 11, 2011

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October 11, 2011

Table of Contents

USDA Announces Winners in Summer Food Service Program Story and Photo Contest

SNA Goes to the White House for Tweetup Event

Federal Register: FNS Requesting Comments on Indirect Costs

Lugar, Stutzman Target $40 billion in USDA Cuts to Help Meet Federal Deficit Reduction Goals

Letter to Agriculture Committees to Stop Budget Cuts

FNS Request for Comments on People’s Garden Initiative Evaluation of Healthy Gardens Healthy Youth Project

Request for Information: Availability to SFAs on Nutrition Information and Ingredient Lists for Foods Used in School Food Service

USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon to Visit Arlington Public Schools

FDA and FSIS Announce Requests for Comments to Approaches to Reducing Sodium Consumption

34th Annual National Food Policy Conference

In Every Issue

SNA Legislative Action Center

Legislative Toolkit

USDA Announces Winners in Summer Food Service Program Story and Photo Contest

US Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced the winners of the first Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) "Food, Fun and Sun!" Story and Photo contest to highlight how the program provides free, healthy meals to children in low-income areas during the summer. Launched earlier in the summer, USDA received over 100 submissions representing sponsors and sites in over forty states.

"We must do all we can to ensure that children get nutritious food during the summer so they are ready to learn and succeed during the school year. The organizations that participated in the contest demonstrate the commitment that people in many communities have made to reach this goal." said Kevin Concannon, USDA Undersecretary for Food Nutrition and Consumer Services.

“Food, Fun and Sun!" showcases successful, model programs in four categories to share with SFSP sponsors and sites across the country. Photo contest categories and winners include: Volunteers: Using volunteers to support their work: Youth and Family Services (Rapid City, SD) Older Children: Addressing hunger among older kids, aged 12-18: Boys and Girls Club of Ada County (Boise, ID). Rural: Successful programs in rural areas: Running Strong (Eagle Butte, SD) Creative: Programs that "think outside the box" serving kids and teens: Kinsley Library, (Kinsley, KS).

For more information, please visit: http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/summer/contest/default.htm.

Federal Register: FNS Requesting Comments on Indirect Costs

The Food and Nutrition Service division of the US Department of Agriculture is requesting comments on an indirect cost study. The study is required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 to assess the extent to which school food authorities (SFAs) participating in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs pay indirect costs.

Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions that were used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

SNA is currently formulating comments for submission and members are also encouraged to send in comments, either to SNA or directly to FNS.

Submissions must be made by December 6, 2011. Comments may be sent to: John Endahl, Senior Program Analyst, Office of Research and Analysis, Food and Nutrition Service, USDA, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 1004, Alexandria, VA 22302. Comments may also be submitted via fax to the attention of John Endahl at 703-305-2576, via email to john.endahl@fns.usda.gov or through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.

For more, visit: http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2011/09/23/2011-24411/agency-information-collection-activities-proposed-collection-comment-request-supplemental-nutrition

SNA Goes to the White House for Tweetup Event

On Wednesday, October 5, 2011 the School Nutrition Association was invited to be a part of the first Let's Move! Garden Harvest & Tweetup at the White House. @SchoolLunch (SNA’s voice on Twitter) and a select group of 16 other tweeps were chosen out of hundreds of applicants to meet with White House staff, observe First Lady Michelle Obama’s Fall Garden Harvest, and share their experience with followers on Twitter.

Let’s Move! is the First Lady’s initiative working to solve childhood obesity within a generation. The School Nutrition Association, whose members work every day to provide healthy school meals, was honored to be included in the tweetup and generate buzz around the First Lady’s efforts to improve child nutrition and get kids excited about healthy lifestyles.Participating in the tweetup also gave @SchoolLunch the opportunity to connect with other tweeps focused on childhood obesity and link them and their followers with www.TrayTalk.org, showing how schools across the country have long supported Let’s Move! goals like offering more locally sourced produce and participating in the HealthierUS School Challenge.

For more, visit: http://www.schoolnutrition.org/Blog.aspx?id=16153&blogid=622

Lugar, Stutzman Target $40 billion in USDA Cuts to Help Meet Federal Deficit Reduction Goals

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Congressman Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) introduced a farm bill that would save taxpayers $40 billion over the next 10 years.

The Rural Economic Farm and Ranch Sustainability and Hunger Act (REFRESH) would reform farm programs, cutting $16 billion, a reduction of almost 25 percent. Conservation programs would be updated and streamlined for a savings of $11.3 billion, a 17.6 percent reduction. Nutrition program eligibility loopholes would be closed saving $13.9 billion, a 2 percent reduction. Roughly two-thirds of the savings would come from farm and conservation programs, and a third from nutrition programs, which represent three-fourths of the US Department of Agriculture budget.

REFRESH would close eligibility loopholes, reduce government overlap and improve the efficiency of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. “The savings of $14 billion comes without devastating the program used by as many as 43 million low-income Americans in need of additional food security,” Lugar said.

For more, visit: http://lugar.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=334391&

Letter to Agriculture Committees to Stop Budget Cuts

SNA has signed on to a letter addressed to Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Members discouraging all proposed budget cuts to nutrition programs.

The need for nutrition assistance has never been greater, and cuts to nutrition programs would set the nation back in efforts to protect families against hunger, improve nutrition and health, and combat obesity. While some would suggest that cuts to nutrition programs could be achieved through administrative costs alone, reductions of the magnitude suggested would require cutbacks in benefits, eligibility, and essential services like nutrition education at a time when millions of Americans across the country are struggling to feed their families.

Nearly 50 million people live in households that struggle to put food on the table, putting millions of families at risk of hunger and poor nutrition. Budget cuts to these programs would be detrimental to the families who rely on programs like SNAP.

FNS Request for Comments on People’s Garden Initiative Evaluation of Healthy Gardens Healthy Youth Project

The Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth project, part of the USDA’s People’s Garden program, was funded by FNS in April 2011. Early research suggests that school gardens may contribute to increased fruit and vegetable consumption among school children. This study will evaluate the impact of those gardens and examine how school gardens, along with garden curricula, link classrooms to gardens and affect diet outcomes among youth in under-resourced communities. At the participating schools, at least 50 percent of children qualify for free or reduced price meals. Up to seventy schools in four states (AK, IA, NY, WA) will be partners in this study and will be randomly assigned to one of two conditions: (1) a treatment group of no more than 34 schools will receive the garden intervention and curricula in year 1; and (2) a waitlist control group of approximately 34 schools will receive gardens near the end of the project. In each school, 2nd and 4th and/or 5th grade classes will participate.

Comments are being sought on (1) whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the performance of the functions of the agency; (2) the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions that were used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

SNA is drafting comments for submission and members are also encouraged to submit comments.

Comments may be sent to: Duke Storen, Director, Office of Strategic, Initiatives, Partnership and Outreach, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 1441, Alexandria, VA 22302. Comments may also be submitted via email to Duke.Storen@fns.usda.gov. Be sure to include the title of the notice in the subject line of themessage. Comments can be sent electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at: http://www.regulations.gov.

Request for Information: Availability to SFAs on Nutrition Information and Ingredient Lists for Foods Used in School Food Service

Nutrition information and ingredient lists are crucial to planning meals for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. For this reason, USDA FNS is interested in learning what is available to schools and what information is lacking. FNS would also like to better understand how services such as the Child Nutrition Database, USDA Foods nutrition fact sheet, and information provided by the manufacturer are used in procuring foods and menu planning. Additionally, FNS would also like to know the source of information used and how the information was found.

Please submit information by November 17, 2011 to Alexandra Lewin, Nutritionist, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 500, Alexandria, VA 22302 or through www.regulations.gov.

For more information, visit: http://frwebgate2.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/TEXTgate.cgi?WAISdocID=SvqKa6/2/1/0&WAISaction=retrieve

USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon to Visit Arlington Public Schools

Tomorrow, US Department of Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon will visit Arlington Public Schools in celebration of National School Lunch Week (NSLW). Under Secretary Concannon will get a first-hand look at the NSLW campaign “School Lunch – Let’s Grown Healthy” in action at Nottingham Elementary School. Local produce will be featured all week in the school cafeteria with special guest farmers joining Under Secretary Concannon on the 12th. Two local farmers will set up produce stands to allow students to taste test some of the healthy foods grown throughout the region.

A great majority of the produce served in Arlington schools comes from farms within 100 miles of the school district. There are healthier options in the cafeteria this year as a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 such as lean meats, whole grains, daily salad options, and more vegetarian options. Wednesday’s menu is oven roasted chicken with a side of cornbread along with samples of fresh, local produce.

Every year the School Nutrition Association celebrates NSLW with a campaign theme. To highlight the local produce being served throughout the nation, the campaign theme this year is “School Lunch – Let’s Grow Healthy”. The campaign also coincides with National Farm to School Month and will spotlight locally sourced foods served in schools. School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) recent national survey revealed that nearly half of school districts offer locally sourced produce.

FDA and FSIS Announce Requests for Comments to Approaches to Reducing Sodium Consumption

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently announced the establishment of dockets to collect comments, data, and evidence relevant to the dietary intake of sodium.

They are interested in current and emerging approaches that promote sodium reduction. The agencies would like to see research that will help organizations understand current and emerging practices by industry in sodium reduction in foods; current consumer understanding of the role of sodium in hypertension and other chronic illnesses, sodium consumption practices; motivation and barriers in reducing sodium in their food intakes; and issues associated with the development of targets for sodium reduction in foods to promote reduction of excess sodium intake.

The School Nutrition Association plans to formulate and submit comments in response to this notice.

The submission deadline is: November 29, 2011. Electronic comments may be submitted online at: http://www.regulations.gov.

To read the detailed Federal Register Notice and for information about submitting comments see: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-09-15/html/2011-23753.htm

34th Annual National Food Policy Conference

On October 3rd and 4th, the Consumer Federation of America in conjunction with the Food Institute Report held its 34th Annual National Food Policy Conference entitled “Examining the Key Food Policy Issues Affecting Consumer, the Food Industry and Government.”

In addition to several breakout sessions, the following individuals served as keynote speakers during the program:

  • Dan Glickman, Senior Fellow, Bipartisan Policy Institute, former Secretary of Agriculture
  • The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary, Department of Agriculture
  • Thomas R. Frieden, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • The Honorable Chellie Pingree, House Committee on Agriculture, U.S. House of Representatives (D-ME)
  • The Honorable Margaret A. Hamburg, Commissioner, Food and Drug Administration

 

Here are some brief highlights from the discussion:

Secretary Glickman opened the conference stating that industry must address new realties such as increased desire by consumers for choice and empowerment, a relatively new focus by policymakers on healthier diets, and deficit-based challenges to traditional price support programs. There were several panel discussions. One panel focused on feeding the world with a population expected to rise to 9 billion by 2050. The discussion focused on improved access to having enough food in production. Another panel focused on consumer data and the research going into meal choices.

There was also a panel focused on Farm Bill priorities where it was expressed that there is great concern about the Congressional climate of cutting spending with regard to nutrition programs, conservation, and other issues. There was discussion about maintaining crop diversity and encouraging small farms. Throughout the conference, there was a focus on food safety and concern about FDA’s need for resources and also about the new developments with food safety at USDA. Another panel focused on digital messaging and marketing about nutrition and the use of text messages to engage and educate WIC participants, and other social media tools.

The conference provided a well-rounded and diverse discussion of a myriad of topics. For a detailed view of the program see here.


 
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