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Tuesday Morning - April 23, 2013

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April 23, 2013

Table of Contents

Federal Policy

USDA Releases New Guidance on Paid Lunch Equity
New SNA Media Outreach Best Practices Guide
Representative King Reintroduces a Bill to Block Calorie Limits in School Meals
Representative Tim Huelskamp Circulating Dear Colleague Letter on a Bill Converting SNAP, TEFAP, CSFP, Senior Farmers Market, and the School Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program into a Block Grant
House Appropriations Committee Held Hearing on Budget for Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies
President Announces 2014 Budget; Includes Grant Funding for School Cafeteria Equipment
Action Alert for Proposed Legislation in Senate and House
Congressional Calendars: How About a Cafeteria Visit?
Comment Period on Proposed Competitive Foods Regulations Closed
USDA Announces Updated Summer Feeding Promotional Information

State Policy

Maryland County Holds Hearing on New School Wellness Policy
North Carolina House Introduces “Healthy and High Performance Schools Act”
New Jersey County Passes New Wellness Policy

Reports, Webinars, and Events

USDA Tracking Farm to School Programs
USDA Releases Evaluation of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

SNA Executive Team Events and Regional Meetings


Federal Policy

USDA Releases New Guidance on Paid Lunch Equity

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released new guidance regarding Paid Lunch Equity for School Year 2013-2014. The guidance clarifies that state agencies can exempt school meal programs from the paid lunch revenue requirements if they “can demonstrate that the required increase to paid lunch prices or revenue contributions would cause the SFA to exceed the three-month operating balance limit.” The guidance also expands the definition of a non-Federal source of funds to include paid breakfasts. Click here to read the complete guidance memo. SNA is reviewing the guidance and will post further information.

New SNA Media Outreach Best Practices Guide

SNA has a new resource for members interested in earning positive media coverage for their school meal programs. SNA’s Media Outreach Best Practices Guide offers tips from members of SNA’s Spokesperson Network, school nutrition professionals with extensive experience in media relations. The guide contains ideas for capturing the media’s attention, preparing your cafeteria for a press event and getting the good news out about the healthy, delicious meals you serve. 

To access SNA’s Media Outreach Best Practices Guide and other PR resources, including talking points, handouts and more, visit www.schoolnutrition.org/pr

Representative King Reintroduces a Bill to Block Calorie Limits in School Meals

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., have re-introduced their bill to repeal the USDA rule implementing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that sets caloric limits on what children are served in public schools. King and Huelskamp also say that their bill “protects the rights of parents to send their children to school with the foods of their choice.”

USDA officials have said that the rule’s caloric limits are not that different from what children were eating previously, and that the new rule is needed to fight childhood obesity.

Representative Tim Huelskamp Circulating Dear Colleague Letter on a Bill Converting SNAP, TEFAP, CSFP, Senior Farmers Market, and the School Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program into a Block Grant

Representative Huelskamp is circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter, which you can read below:

April 17, 2013

Dear Colleague:
More than 47 million Americans are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. More than 3.5 million of these recipients are of working age, have no one else they are responsible for, and have no disabilities that would prevent them from working—more easily identified as “able-bodied adults without dependents” or ABAWDs. The number of people relying on this program has grown dramatically during the past four years.

When President Obama took office in January 2009, fewer than 32 million individuals were enrolled in SNAP. Furthermore, the costs have grown from $34.6 billion in FY08 to $74.6 billion in FY12 – an increase of 116%! As a mandatory, auto-pilot spending program, there are no measures in place to inject true accountability into the distribution of these benefits, and states have no motivation or incentive to make even the most nominal attempt to control costs.

I would like to invite you to be a cosponsor of H.R. 1355, the State Nutrition Assistance Flexibility Act, legislation that will convert SNAP and five other welfare food programs into a block grant program. Emulating the successful welfare reforms of the 1990s, this legislation will empower governors and state legislators to craft food assistance programs that fit the needs of their own states. Kansas’ needs are different from those of Iowa or California, and each state should have the opportunity to serve their residents in the most effective way possible.

In addition, this legislation will contain a work requirement that establishes a mandatory job search program, requiring 1.5 million ABAWDs to demonstrate participation each month in a job search program. The legislation also requires money to be distributed to states according to the number of people living under the federal poverty line in each state.

Current cosponsors are Steve Scalise, Jim Jordan, Jeff Denham, Marsha Blackburn, Louie Gohmert, and David Schweikert. The bill has been endorsed by the Heritage Foundation, and is a part of RSC’s Anti-Poverty Initiative.

If you wish to be added as a cosponsor of HR 1355, please contact Richard Henkle in my office at richard.henkle@mail.house.gov or via phone at 5-2715.

Sincerely,
Tim Huelskamp

House Appropriations Committee Held Hearing on Budget for Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies

The hearing involved Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to review the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 budget request of USDA. Witnesses at this hearing included: The Honorable Thomas Vilsack, Secretary, USDA; Dr. Joseph Glauber, Chief Economist, USDA; and Mr. Michael Young, Budget Officer, USDA.

The hearing served as a general overview of USDA’s budget request, with particular focus on the Secretary’s view regarding how the Department is making priority decisions within the framework of a very tight budget. Key issues discussed during the hearing included the general tight budget situation; the maintenance of research facilities; operation of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC); certain matters related to the new meal pattern rules in force for the National School Lunch Program; the general disagreement with the Administration’s proposal to transfer funding for Title II of the Food for Peace Program from USDA to the United States Agency for International Development, and the overall impact of sequestration and additional across-the-board budget reductions in USDA’s FY 2013 appropriation.

Of particular interest would be the questions regarding school meals:

Congressman Nunnelee asked about USDA’s timetable for eliminating the maximum limits of grains and meat/meat alternates that may be served under the new school lunch meal pattern, noting statements made last week by USDA officials at the American Commodity Distribution Association’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. Secretary Vilsack said that the elimination of maximums for grains and meat/meat alternates has already been announced for the coming school year, and that USDA is working to make the elimination permanent.

Chairman Aderholt said that USDA data shows that the revised meal pattern has resulted in a reduced number of participants in the program, particularly among paid meals. He also suggested that many schools are now operating in the red as a result of a combination of higher costs and lower revenues. How can the committee work with USDA to provide greater flexibility? Secretary Vilsack said that there is an extra six cents per meal for those who demonstrate compliance with the new meal pattern. He also said that USDA has to do a better job of educating school food service operations on how to buy fruits and vegetables. Things need to be thought of in portion size rather than calories as a way of dealing with costs. He also repeated concerns about obesity and the concerns of past military commanders about the physical condition of young people upon entering military service. He urged patience regarding the implementation of the new meal pattern. He continued to say that concerns about calorie limits do not appear to be serious ones since most meals are within 25 to 30 calories of what they were a year ago.

President Announces 2014 Budget; Includes Grant Funding for School Cafeteria Equipment

President Obama has announced his FY2014 Budget for the federal government which included additional funds supporting nutritional programs. The budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) includes $35 million in grant money for schools to purchase necessary equipment to help meet the new guidelines from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA). It also shores up Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) benefits that were set to be cut this November. The next step of the budget process is for Congress to begin debate on the Appropriations Committees before votes in the respective Chambers. For a memo from OFW covering highlights on the USDA and FDA portions of the budget request, click here.

Action Alert for Proposed Legislation in Senate and House

Please help us in providing healthy school meals each day. Contact your Senators and Member of Congress and ask them to co-sponsor S. 427/H.R. 1303. For a customizable form letter to send to your House Members and Senators, visit http://capwiz.com/asfsa/issues/alert/?alertid=62541546.

Congressional Calendars: How About a Cafeteria Visit?

During recess periods, many Senators and Members of Congress head back to connect with constituents in their districts. The Senate and House are both on State Work/Constituent Work Weeks during May 27-31, 2013. That would be a great time to reach out and invite them to visit your cafeteria and see how school meals help the kids in their districts. To see the calendars for 2013, click here. For SNA’s toolkit on setting up a Cafeteria Site Visit, click here.

Comment Period on Proposed Competitive Foods Regulations Closed

The comment period closed on April 9th for the proposed regulations which govern items sold in school a la carte lines, vending machines and snack bars during the school day, excluding food brought from home, served in classroom parties, sold through occasional fundraisers, or at after school events. SNA’s comments, as well as information about the process SNA took to develop their comments are available by clicking here. Over 197,000 comments were submitted to USDA. However, a vast majority of those comments were mass grassroots campaigns and are not necessarily unique comments. SNA will soon be selecting two winners for a trip for 2 to SNA’s 2014 Legislative Action Conference based on SNA members who submitted comments. Stay tuned for the announcement very soon!

USDA Announces Updated Summer Feeding Promotional Information

Summer is almost here and USDA along with SNA are working to increase awareness of and participation in the Summer Feeding Program. USDA has updated its website to contain information on how to promote your program with flyers, how to's, and guides to media outreach. It also includes examples of PSAs, soliciting volunteers, success stories from other school districts, and other helpful tools to ensure as many kids as possible have access to healthy meals during the summer months. For operators in rural programs, there is information as well and an index of past webinars. All of the information will help your program better support your students during the lazy, hazy days of summer!


State Policy

Maryland County Holds Hearing on New School Wellness Policy

Howard County, Md., Board of Education held a hearing before an audience of 150 to discuss a new wellness policy for the school system. Over forty people spoke out against the current proposal saying any new system should focus on increased activity, decrease selling of snack foods, and implementation of nutritional standards. The Board of Education expects to hold a vote on May 9th, with another work session to be scheduled.

North Carolina House Introduces “Healthy and High Performance Schools Act”

A bill introduced this month in the North Carolina House could result in significant additional funds for school nutrition programs that meet certain standards. If the bill were to pass, schools that provided healthy meals could receive an additional ten cents per breakfast and lunch served, the 40 cent cost to cover and thus eliminate the reduced price category, and five cents if local produce is used. If a school is over 40% free and reduced, North Carolina would provide an additional $7 per student to expand breakfast programs. In addition, the bill lays out nutritional guidelines, requires each district to have a central kitchen for processed produce, and sets a minimum of physical activity.

New Jersey County Passes New Wellness Policy

West Orange (N.J.) School District passed a new wellness policy with support of teachers and parents. The School Board presented ideas of the new policy including new healthier recipes from Sodexo, the food service provider. Parents commented on how they fully support the new meals and mentioned their children are asking to eat the salads over lunches brought from home.


Reports, Webinars, and Events

USDA Tracking Farm to School Programs

In order to establish realistic goals with regard to “increasing the availability of local foods in eligible schools,” in March 2013 USDA began conducting a first of its kind nationwide census, surveying over 13,000 school districts to determine how many schools currently purchase local foods. The Farm to School Census will prioritize gathering procurement data related to local sourcing, with documentation of additional farm to school activities (e.g. the prevalence of school gardens, promotional activities, and curriculum integration, etc.) as a secondary objective. Foodservice directors from all public school district School Food Authorities (SFAs) are being asked to complete the Census. Only school foodservice directors should complete the Census, and only one response per SFA is required. Please do not submit responses for individual schools. For more information and to complete the Census information, click here.

USDA Releases Evaluation of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

USDA has released a summary of results of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program which aims to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among students in the nation’s poorest elementary schools by providing free fresh fruits and vegetables to students outside of regular school meals. The report found that students participating in the program consumed more fruits and vegetables than nonparticipating students. To read more about the summary, click here.


SNA Executive Team Events and Regional Meetings

April 2-6, 2013, Florida State Conference, Orlando, FL
April 8-10, 2013, American Commodity Distribution Association's Annual National Conference, Nashville, TN
April 11-13, 2013, Georgia State Conference, Savannah, GA
April 15-20, 2013, National Leadership Conference, Savannah, GA
April 26-27, 2013, Kids Healthy Recipe Challenge, Baltimore, MD


 
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