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Tuesday Morning February 5, 2008

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February 5, 2008

 

 

Table of Contents

SNA Releases 2008 Legislative Issue Paper
SNA Responds to USDA Commodity Beef Food Safety Allegations
Members of Congress Call for Strong Nutrition Title
Schafer Confirmed Secretary of Agriculture
State Legislative Update
2008 Summer Food Service Program Reimbursement Rates Published
CDC Releases Review of Child Nutrition Policy

In Every Issue

Legislative Action Center
Legislative Toolkit
PR Toolkit
State Policy Index
State and Federal Legislation

Update: Hotels at LAC

LAC 2008 Logo

The SNA block of rooms at the conference hotel for the Legislative Action Conference, the J.W. Marriott Hotel, is sold out. A second block of rooms has been secured for LAC attendees at the Marriott Hotel at Metro Center located at 774 12th Street NW just three blocks from the J.W. Marriott. For those holding rooms at the J.W. Marriott that might not need them, please contact Cheryl Thompson, SNA Director of Meetings at 1-800-877-8822, ext. 130 or cthompson@schoolnutrition.org.  Please do not cancel any held rooms through the hotel in order for the extra rooms to be available to SNA members as part of the LAC room block.

SNA Releases 2008 Legislative Issue Paper

Each year the members of the School Nutrition Association present Congress with the critical issues facing school nutrition professionals and the more than 30 million children that are provided safe, healthy meals through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.  SNA members are strongly committed to ensuring the highest nutritional standards for all children. This year, SNA is advocating two central issues to advance this commitment:

  • The creation of science-based, practical, and uniform national nutrition standards to govern the sale of all foods and beverages sold on the school campus during the school day.
  • Adequate funding to support school nutrition programs.

To achieve these goals, SNA asks that the Congress consider:

  • Giving the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to regulate and enforce the sale of food and beverages outside of the cafeteria (ending the “time and place” rule).
  • Requiring all a la carte and competitive food sales to be consistent with the Dietary Guidelines, as is required for school meals.
  • Requiring national uniformity throughout the country.  Children in all states and local districts need the same nutrients to grow and be healthy.  The current lack of uniformity is increasing the cost of the programs.
  • Improvements in the meal pattern will further increase the cost of producing a school meal.  SNA supports more fruits and vegetables and whole grains. But these changes cost money. 

The complete 2008 SNA Legislative Issue Paper can be downloaded through Related Links.

SNA Responds to USDA Commodity Beef Food Safety Allegations

Last Wednesday, the Humane Society of the United States released footage of inhumane slaughtering practices at the Hallmark Meat Packing, a company in Chino, Calif. that supplies meat for processing to the Westland Meat Company, also in Chino, Calif.  The footage showed extreme violations of animal cruelty laws, particularly towards “downer” cattle.  Downers are cattle that struggle to stand up on their own and could be sick.  The Westland Meat Company was a top supplier of commodity beef to the National School Lunch Program.  During the 2004-2005 school year, the company was honored by the USDA as the “Top Supplier for the National School Lunch Program.”

After this story broke in the Washington Post, the Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer announced that USDA would launch a full inspection of the company and would suspend Westland Meat Company as a supplier for the commodity programs.  Additionally, the USDA expressed frustration with the Humane Society for failing to alert authorities sooner.  Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) also responded with letters to both Secretary Schafer and USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service Under Secretary Dr. Richard Raymond.  In his letters, Durbin called for greater oversight and enforcement of regulations related to meat packers and other companies supplying food to the National School Lunch Program.

SNA also issued a statement  emphasizing that all meals served through the National School Lunch Program are safe.  The Association also reiterated that all foods purchased for use in the program must be in compliance with food safety regulations and all meals must be prepared following very strict food safety procedures. For more information, please see Related Links.

Members of Congress Call for Strong Nutrition Title

Several members of the House of Representatives called on the chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Representative Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) to include a strong nutrition title in the Farm Bill.  A letter signed by Representatives Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), and Hilda Solis (D-Calif.), along with more than  150 other members, calls on Peterson to make sure that programs such as food stamps are adequately funded. The Farm Bill passed the House of Representatives in July and the Senate in December.  A conference committee consisting of legislators from both the Senate and the House will soon meet to reconcile differences between the two versions of the bill.

Schafer Confirmed Secretary of Agriculture

shafer

The Senate confirmed former North Dakota Governor Ed Schafer (R) as the Secretary of Agriculture on Monday, January 28, 2008.  Schafer will replace former Secretary Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), who resigned in September in order to run for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel (R). Schafer was confirmed by unanimous consent a few hours prior to President Bush’s final State of the Union Address.

Secretary Schafer brings a record as an innovative two-term governor of North Dakota to USDA along with extensive private sector experience as both an entrepreneur and a business executive. Schafer served as North Dakota's governor from 1992 to 2000 and made diversifying and expanding North Dakota's economy, reducing the cost of government and advancing agriculture his top priorities in office.

State Legislative Update

It was another busy week for state legislatures.  Several more bills concerning were introduced and at least one state voted on legislation pertaining to the school nutrition programs.

In Virginia, the state Senate voted to ban the use of trans fat in food items sold in schools.  The legislation now moves on to the state House of Representatives.  Last year, a similar measure passed the Senate, only to die in the House at the end of the legislative session.

Several more states introduced legislation that would create school nutrition guidelines.  In Colorado, a bill (SB 129) was introduced in the Senate that would adopt the Alliance for a Healthier Generation school beverage guidelines.  Iowa also introduced legislation (HB 2100) this week that would ban the use of trans fats in school meals.

A universal school lunch bill was introduced in Tennessee.  If passed, the legislation (SB 3984) would free school lunches to all children attending school.  Tennessee would also become the first state in the nation to provide universal school lunch. For more information about state legislation, please visit the State and Federal Legislation link at the bottom of this page.

2008 Summer Food Service Program Reimbursement Rates Published

The Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has published the reimbursement rates for the 2008 Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).  The rates were effective as of January 1, 2008. Reimbursement rates for the SFSP for 2008 reflect an 4.1 percent increase in the cost of living over last year.  The maximum allowable operational reimbursement for lunch or suppers in the continental U.S. is $3.0375, up to $1.7275 for breakfast, and $0.7175 for snacks, depending on the type of service and location.  Higher rates apply in Alaska and Hawaii. 

The Summer Food Service Program provides students with meals during the summer time and when school is out of session.  The program is one of the most underutilized federal nutrition programs. In 2005, less than 18 percent of low-income children who received a school lunch during the school year received a meal during the summer months. For additional information regarding the rates, please visit Related Links.

CDC Releases Review of Child Nutrition Policy

The February issue of the Journal of School Health included a review of school laws and policies effecting student health.  Conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the study looked at policies affecting a variety of health related areas, including school nutrition programs. For more information, please visit Related Links.

SNA Legislative Action Center

Legislative Toolkit

PR Toolkit

State Policy Index

State and Federal Legislation

State legislation can now be accessed on the Internet through Netscan. Use Username: schoolnutrition and Password: sna

Click State Legislation Instructions for steps to access state legislation through the service. Legislatures currently in session include:  Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and District of Columbia.

 


 
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