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Tuesday Morning April 15, 2008

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April 15, 2008

 

 

Table of Contents

USDA Releases Meal Cost Study
2008-2009 Income Eligibility Guidelines Released
Beef Recall Update
Legislators Begin Farm Bill Negotiations
House of Representatives Passes Food Allergies Bill
SNA Reports on Public Awareness Activities
States Busy Debating School Nutrition Legislation
State Legislative Digest: Farm to School Programs
School-based Interventions Effective in Preventing Childhood Overweight

In Every Issue

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State and Federal Legislation
2007 - 2008 Public Policy and Legislative Committee

 

USDA Releases Meal Cost Study

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On April 11, 2008, the US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service released the “School Lunch and Breakfast Cost Study-II” indicating  that “full costs” to produce National School Lunch Program lunches “generally exceeded the free lunch subsidy” provided to prepare them.  Collected from the 2005-2006 school year two years ago, these findings directly echo recent research conducted by the School Nutrition Association (SNA) in 2007 that show combined labor, food and indirect costs necessary to provide a school lunch are greater than the Federal reimbursement, commodity entitlement and average price paid by students who do not qualify for a free school lunch.

The USDA Meal Cost Study Summary of Findings states that for the average School Food Authority (SFA), “the full cost to produce a reimbursable lunch was $2.91. When results are weighted by the total reimbursable lunches served by each SFA, the mean full cost to produce a reimbursable lunch was $2.79.” This far exceeds the regular $2.495 per meal subsidy rate for free lunches in the 2005-06 school year ($2.32 in cash reimbursements plus $0.175 in entitlement commodities with an extra $.02 per meal in high poverty school districts). While the Meal Cost Study found contradictory results when comparing the “reported costs” versus “full costs” to prepare a school lunch, SNA firmly believes all costs associated with preparing a meal need to be factored in as these all must be absorbed by school district nutrition programs. Using "reported costs" rather than "full costs" when determining the cost of a meal presents a skewed picture, similar to the idea that the advertised price to purchase a car is the same as its actual cost.

Media attention of this issue increased yesterday with a front page article in the Washington Post on the impact rising food prices are having on school nutrition programs. The NBC Today Show, ABC News Radio and National Public Radio's Marketplace also covered the issue. CBS Evening News is expected to cover the story this evening. SNA has also created a meal cost webpage with information about school meals funding facts and information.  Please visit Related Links for additional information, including talking points.

2008-2009 Income Eligibility Guidelines Released

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service has posted the annual adjustments to the Income Eligibility Guidelines, used in determining eligibility for free and reduced price meals or free milk. The guidelines are used by schools, institutions, and facilities participating in the National School Lunch Program (and Commodity School Program), School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program for Children, Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program. The guidelines are intended to direct benefits to those children most in need and are revised annually to account for changes in the Consumer Price Index. The new guidelines are effective from July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2009. The numbers reflected in this notice for a family of four in the 48 contiguous states, the District of Columbia, Guam and the territories represent an increase of 2.7% over last year’s level for a family of the same size. Under the new guidelines a family of four qualifying for free meals must make $27,560 or less, while a family of four qualifying for reduced price meals must make less than $39,330. See Related Links to read the Federal Register notice and to access a table with the new guidelines.

Beef Recall Update

This week, USDA issued additional guidance for school districts and state agencies regarding reimbursements for the beef recall. Please visit Related Links for this new information.

Legislators Begin Farm Bill Negotiations

capitolLast week, the House of Representatives announced the list of appointed Representatives participating in the conference committee negotiating the 2008 Farm Bill.  The 49 members were appointed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and selected from the House Committee on Agriculture and other committees that have jurisdiction over certain provisions in the Farm Bill.  The complete list of conferees is available through Related Links.

The conference committee held its first meeting on Thursday, April 9thCongressional Quarterly reported that some conferees were initially optimistic that they could reach a deal before the current Farm Bill extension expires this Friday, April 18th.  If a deal is not reached, President Bush has stated that he will seek at one-year extension of the current Farm Bill.  During last Thursday’s meeting, however, legislators hit an impasse as negotiators from the Senate and the House differed over a plan presented by the House of Representatives that would increase spending by $6 billion over the $280 billion baseline for the bill.  Included in the House plan is $9.5 billion in funding for nutrition programs, including the Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program.

House of Representatives Passes Food Allergies Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives advanced a bill that would create a food allergy management plan for schools.  On Wednesday, April 9, 2008, the House passed the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Act of 2008 (HR 2063,) a bill that would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop and make available a policy to manage the risk of food allergy and anaphylaxis in schools.  School districts and childcare centers would not be required to implement the policy, but they are encouraged to voluntarily adopt it.  The House passed the bill by a voice vote, sending it to the Senate.

The bill includes language on the role of parents, students, and school administrators.  The bill recommends that the policy address issues such as creating an individual healthcare plan for affected individuals, allergy and anaphylaxis management for teachers and other school personnel, and strategies to reduce the risk of exposure to anaphylaxis-causing agents. If the Senate passes this bill, it would become the first piece of federal legislation to address food allergies and anaphylaxis in schools.  States such as Connecticut already have laws addressing food allergy policies for schools.

SNA Reports on Public Awareness Activities

During the first quarter of 2008, the School Nutrition Association continued its efforts to promote healthy school meals and the efforts of school nutrition professionals to provide balanced, nutritious meals to students in school. Working to counter the challenges associated with the recall of more than 50 million pounds of beef sent to schools through the USDA commodity program, SNA responded to an average of 5 incoming press calls per week and made 78 proactive pitches to media outlets during the quarter.  SNA public affairs staff, SNA’s public relations firm and the 35 member SNA Spokesperson Network conveyed key Association messages to an estimated audience of over 8 million people. This represents an increase from 2 million during the first quarter last year, an increase of 300%.

States Busy Debating School Nutrition Legislation

South Carolina legislators voted to stall a bill that would create nutrition standards for items sold in school vending machines.  The bill, HB 4650, would have banned the sale of soda, allowing only water, milk, certain types of juice and electrolyte replacement beverages to be sold.  It also would have set strict nutrition standards for snack foods sold in middle and high school vending machines.  Vending machines would not be allowed in elementary schools.  The legislation received strong support from advocacy groups and the largest school district in South Carolina, but it was defeated by the state House Education and Public Works panel.  Legislators felt that the bill went too far by restricting sales at sporting events and other afterschool activities. Alabama legislators also defeated a school nutrition bill this week.  HB 767 would have required school districts to submit their monthly menus to a state nutritionist for review.  The legislation was defeated 45-40.

The Associated Press syndicated an article this week on a trans fat bill being debated in the Illinois legislature.  Illinois lawmakers are considering banning food items containing trans fat in all schools throughout the state.  The bill would require school districts to discontinue using trans fat-containing vegetable oil by 2009, while eliminating all foods containing trans-fat by 2010.  The article noted that school districts are already making progress in eliminating trans fat, although increased costs are a problem for many school districts implementing bans nationwide.

New school nutrition regulations for grades pre-kindergarten through 8th grade went into effect on March 28, 2008 in Tennessee.  The regulations set standards for all competitive foods sold during the school day.  Milk, 100% fruit juice, water, and low-calorie, non-carbonated beverages are acceptable beverages under these standards.  Foods must not contain more than 35% total fat, 10% saturated fat, and 35% sugar by weight.  The regulations also place limits on the amount of sodium in each item.

State Legislative Digest: Farm to School Programs

f2sOver the past few years, school nutrition programs in many states have focused on procuring locally grown food, particularly through farm to school programs.  Concerns about food safety, childhood overweight, and the environment are driving communities to look at alternative food sources.  In many areas, farm to school programs are an especially inviting prospect.  The programs connect children with where their food comes from, through farm field trips, school gardens, and classroom activities.  Farm-to-school programs also expose children to a wide variety of healthy and nutritious foods. During the 2008 legislative session, 19 bills have been introduced in 10 states. To date, Maryland, New Mexico, and Washington State each passed legislation expanding access to farm to school programs. 

School-based Interventions Effective in Preventing Childhood Overweight

School-based interventions are effective in preventing childhood overweight, according to a study published in the April 2008 issue of the journal Pediatrics.  Researchers from several Philadelphia, Penn. area universities found that after 2 years of a school intervention program, children in participating schools gained significantly less weight than students in non-participating schools.  In the intervention schools, students participated in nutrition education lessons while fruit juice and water replaced soda in vending machines.  The researchers argue that a multiple component program at schools can assist in reducing the risk of overweight among children.  The researchers also argued, however, that more emphasis must be placed on other areas both inside and outside of schools.

 

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, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, 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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