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Tuesday Morning May 6, 2008

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May 6, 2008

Happy Child Nutrition Employee Appreciation Week!

 

Table of Contents

USDA Announces Reauthorization Listening Sessions
Farm Bill Update
Joint Economic Committee Holds Hearing on Food Prices
The Impact of Rising Food Costs
Hill Named to IOM School Meal Patterns Committee
Update on Beef Recall, Legislation Introduced
USDA Announces Purchase of Commodity Pork Products
Commodity Food Facts Website Launched
Love Your Veggies Grant Winners Announced

 

In Every Issue

Legislative Action Center
Legislative Toolkit
PR Toolkit
State Policy Index
State and Federal Legislation
2007 - 2008 Public Policy and Legislative Committee Contacts

 

USDA Announces Reauthorization Listening Sessions

In preparation for the 2009 reauthorization of the federal child nutrition programs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced a series of listening sessions around the country.  These listening sessions are a great opportunity for SNA members to voice their thoughts and concerns regarding the school nutrition programs.  USDA staff will use the information gathered during these public meetings to shape policy for the 2009 reauthorization bill. All SNA members are strongly encouraged to attend. SNA is currently drafting testimony that highlights the Association’s reauthorization priorities.

Please note that all dates and locations, except June 10, 2008, are tentative.  SNA is in contact with USDA and will continue to post more information as it becomes available.  SNA has also posted a PowerPoint presentation for State affiliates and Chapters that serves as an introduction to the Reauthorization process. Please visit the 2009 Child Nutrition Reauthorization for more details.

  • Northeast Region – June 10 – Boston (confirmed)
  • Southwest Region – July 15 – San Antonio or Austin
  • West Region – Aug 6 – San Francisco
  • Mid-Atlantic Region – Aug 6 – Baltimore
  • Southeast Region – Aug 26, 27 or 28 – Atlanta
  • Midwest Region – Week of Sept 8 – Chicago
  • Mountain Plains Region – Sept 9 or 11 – Denver

Farm Bill Update

capitol

House and Senate Farm Bill Conferees met late into the night on May 1st and into the morning of May 2nd to discuss outstanding titles and the remaining provisions.  To allow negotiations to continue the House and Senate passed another extension of the 2002 Farm Bill to May 16th which was signed into law May 2nd by President Bush. Nine titles were agreed to and closed during negotiations on May 1st.  Those titles include:Research, Rural Development, Commodities Exchange Act, Conservation, Energy, Forestry, Crop Insurance, Livestock, and Specialty Crops.

Issues that remain unresolved include the Miscellaneous Title which was closed except for two provisions that are being worked out by staff. And the the Nutrition Title which was closed except for one project.  The title includes an amendment by Senator Roberts (R-KS) establishing a $4 million whole cereal foods pilot program for the school breakfast and lunch program to be paid for by Section 32 funds. Also reportedly in the nutrition title is $1 billion to improve child nutrition by expanding the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program. In all, Senate/House conferees approved $10.365 billion in new ten-year funding for the nutrition title. According to the Friends of the World Food Program, Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, plans to cut the House-passed mandatory funding for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program from $840 million to $60 million. Efforts are under way to protect the Program from the proposed cut. Several issues remain open in the Commodity Title.

The farm bill conference remains adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair. Senator Harkin stated that there will not be another meeting before 1 PM on Tuesday, May 6, 2008. See Related Links for a summary of the Bill from Congressional Quarterly.

Joint Economic Committee Holds Hearing on Food Prices

The Joint Economic Committee held a hearing on Thursday, May 1, 2008 to discuss the impact of rising food prices on American families.  Several people representing farming, food industry, anti-hunger, and government interests testified before the committee, offering their assessment of the current food situation.  During the hearing, several possible causes for high food prices were identified, including:

  • High energy costs
  • Global weather conditions impacting the supply of wheat
  • U.S. and foreign government policies, including U.S. farm policy
  • Ethanol production

For additional information, including specific testimony, please visit Related Links.

The Impact of Rising Food Costs

The impact of rising food costs on school nutrition programs continued to make headlines for the third straight week.  USA Today featured the issue in a “Life” section cover story.  The article used the Hallmark / Westland Meat Company beef recall to spotlight the school nutrition program’s dependence on commodity foods as well as the necessity of keeping food costs low.  Most of the article examines how many school nutrition programs are struggling with rising costs.  The article also points out that school meals are the safest and most nutritious option for children during the school day. Articles on the effect of food prices on school nutrition also appeared in Education Week, on CNN Money and in many local daily papers.

At this time, SNA is currently exploring all possible legislative solutions in order to provide relief to school nutrition programs. To help school nutrition directors answer questions about rising costs, SNA has added additional resources to a web page linked under the "Quick Links" column on bottom, right side front page of www.schoolnutrition.org.  These new resources include a PowerPoint presentation that can be customized and used to present the food cost issue to school boards, as well additional talking points on the topic. For additional information, please visit Related Links.

Hill Named to IOM School Meal Patterns Committee

SNA President Mary Hill, SNS was recently named to an Institutes of Medicine committee charged with reviewing school meal patterns and nutrition standards.  The ad hoc expert committee will review and assess the food and nutritional needs of school-aged children in the United States based on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Dietary Reference Intakes.  The committee will then develop a set of economical and practical recommendations for new meal pattern requirements and standards that reflect current nutrition science and better meet the nutritional needs of students.  These recommendations, compiled in a final report, will then be used by USDA Food and Nutrition Service to develop new meal pattern requirements for the school nutrition programs. Other committee members come from a variety of backgrounds in academia, school foodservice, and medicine. For additional information about the committee and its members, please visit Related Links.

Update on Beef Recall, Legislation Introduced

Last week the Associated Press released the names of two beef processors who were cited but not named in a prior USDA audit of suppliers of beef to the USDA commodity programs. According to the MeatingPlace.com the two U.S. beef processors implicated in the USDA audit of slaughterhouses in the wake of the Hallmark/Westland recall have remedied the problems that prompted the agency's Food Safety and Inspection Service to issue reprimands.  FSIS spokeswoman Amanda Eamich emphasized this point following the Associated Press article published Wednesday citing information obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request for details of a humane-handling audit of 18 processors that supply beef to the National School Lunch Program.

Sen.. Herbert Kohl (D-Wis.) had requested the special audit after abuses at Chino, Calif.-based Hallmark/Westland made national headlines. Hallmark/Westland was a school lunch program supplier. "We reported back to [Kohl] more than three weeks ago," Eamich said. "Really, this isn't any new development." FSIS's audit found violations at four of the 18 slaughterhouses, including National Beef Packing Co.'s Dodge City, Kan., plant (overcrowded holding pens); Cargill Meat Solutions' Fresno, Calif., plant (excessive use of electrical prod); Dakota Premium Foods' South St. Paul, Minn., plant (excessive balking at stunning area); and Martin's Abbattoir and Wholesale Meats in Godwin, N.C. (insufficient stunning). The first three of those processors received non-compliance records (NRs); the last was suspended temporarily. Another received a letter of concern over its use of a high-powered hose to wash cattle prior to slaughter. All have since remedied the problems, according to FSIS.

Additionally, on May, 1, 2008, Senator Robert Menendez (D NJ) introduced S. 2592, a bill "to improve food safety through mandatory meat, meat product, poultry, and poultry product recall authority, to require the Secretary of Agriculture to improve communication about recalls with schools participating in the school lunch and breakfast programs, and for other purposes."  Currently the bill has one co-sponsor, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ.)    

USDA Announces Purchase of Commodity Pork Products

The USDA announced on Thursday, May 1, 2008 that it will purchase up to $50 million in pork products for use in several domestic nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program.  The purchase will help support hog farmers that are currently losing money due to changes in the national economy. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) purchases a variety of food products for distribution to the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, and other domestic food assistance programs. USDA also makes emergency purchases of commodity items for victims of natural disasters. USDA ensures that all commodities purchased are nutritious and healthful.  Commodities are typically required to be low in fat, sugar, and sodium.  They must also be USDA inspected and graded.  All commodity purchases are of American origin.

Commodity Food Facts Website Launched

Commodity foods have improved dramatically over the past few decades, but public perception about commodity foods has not kept pace.  A new webpage from USDA offers many resources to provide accurate, timely information about USDA commodities and to dispel myths about commodity foods. See Related Links.

Love Your Veggies Grant Winners Announced

vegOver 50 elementary schools in 47 states and the District of Columbia were awarded $10,000 nutrition grants on Wednesday, April 30, 2008 to promote consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables through the Love Your Veggies(TM) grant program. The program is sponsored by the makers of Hidden Valley(R) Salad Dressings in partnership with School Nutrition Foundation (SNF) and supported by Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH).

The winners were announced in an event in New York City where actress and mother Kimberly Williams-Paisley also debuts her new book, Henry and the Hidden Veggie Garden. SNA member Sharlene Wong, SNS was on hand to lead students from one of the winning schools in New York City in preparing bagel smiles with fresh vegetables. The Love Your Veggies(TM) Nationwide School Lunch Campaign aims to increase access to -- and consumption of -- fresh fruits and vegetables in elementary schools across the country. For additional information, please visit Related Links.</</p>

 

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, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin, and District of Columbia.

2007 - 2008 Public Policy and Legislative Committee Contacts

Craig Weidel

PPL Committee Chair

clweidel@mpsaz.org

Cindy Brooks

Northeast Region

CBrooks@seymourschools.org

Sara Gasiorowski

Mideast Region

Sara.Gasiorowski@wayne.k12.in.us

Annette Bomar Hopgood

Southeast Region

awhopgood@bellsouth.net

Cindy Hormel

Midwest Region

chormel@liberty.k12.mo.us

Melanie Konarik

Southwest Region

melaniek@springisd.org  

Lyman Graham,

West Region

lyman.graham@carlsbad.k12.nm.us

Lincoln Pierce

Northwest Region

lpierce@bethelsd.org

School Nutrition Association

Child Nutrition and Policy Center

epeterson@schoolnutrition.org 

 


 
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