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Tuesday Morning - March 4, 2008

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March 4, 2008

 

Special LAC Late Edition

Happy National School Breakfast Week!

Table of Contents

LAC 2008 Update
Hearing on School Nutrition Programs This Afternoon
Farm Bill Update
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Beef Recall
New York Times Covers School Lunch
CN on the Campaign Trail
School Breakfast Fuels Kids' Imaginations
Sliced, Fresh Apples for Schools through Commodity Pilot Program

In Every Issue

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

LAC 2008 Update

The 2008 Legislative Action Conference is currently underway in Washington, DC. Below are some highlights from this week's conference:

  • At the Sunday keynote luncheon, attendees listen to NBC political analyst Chuck Todd discussed the 2008 presidential election and potential outcomes from today's Ohio and Texas primaries.
  • The need for increased funding was the focus of one of Monday's panel discussions. Attendees listened to perspectives from a state agency director, a district director, and a researcher regarding the various funding challenges school nutrition programs are facing.
  • Much of the conference has focused on nutrition standards. Monday morning, attendees listened as speakers from both the medical community and the food industry shared their opinions on national nutrition standards. Monday afternoon was dedicated to a discussion of SNA's proposed National School Food and Beverage Standards.
  • Conference attendees also heard from several special guests on Monday. USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Nancy Montanez Johner, along with several high level USDA officials answered questions about the beef recall.
  • Minnesota Representative Collin Peterson (D) gave the Carl D. Perkins Memorial Lecture during Monday evening's banquet. Peterson spoke about the on going Farm Bill negotiations and how he will fight for a uniform, national school nutrition standard. He also thanked SNA members for their hard work and dedication to feeding America's children.

Keep checking www.schoolnutrition.org for more information about LAC 2008.

Hearing on School Nutrition Programs This Afternoon

The House Committee on Education and Labor is holding a hearing on the school nutrition programs this afternoon. The hearing will cover issues facing the school nutrition programs, including the recent beef recall. SNA President Mary Hill, SNS is among those testifying.

Hill will testify about SNA's 2008 legislative priorities and the USDA beef recall:

  • Nutrition Standards: SNA urges the Congress to require a science-based, yet practical, uniform national nutrition standard to govern the sale of all foods and beverages sold on the school campus during the school day. SNA asks Congress to give the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to regulate and enforce the sale of food and beverages outside of the cafeteria. SNA also asks that Congress require all a la carte and competitive food sales to be consistent with the Dietary Guidelines and national uniform school meal patterns throughout the country.
  • Beef Recall: SNA feels that there are two areas that need to be improved, with regard to USDA's handling of the recall. There needs to be faster communication between the USDA Food and Nutrition Service and local recipients. Additionally, the USDA procedures for executing a recall need to be improved, including better education for school districts and additional funds for transportation and disposal of recalled products.

At the close of her testimony, Hill will also outline SNA's requests for the 2009 Reauthorization, including:

  • Helping families that are unable to afford reduced price meals.
  • Expanding the school breakfast program.
  • Providing school breakfast commodities.
  • Streamlining the school nutrition programs.

In addition to Hill, also scheduled to testify are:

  • Kathleen Corrigan, Director - Food and Nutrition Services, Mt. Diablo Unified School District, Concord, Calif. Corrigan will be speaking about her district's school breakfast program, as well as changes implemented with state nutrition standards legislation.
  • Dora Rivas, SNS, Executive Director for Food and Nutrition Services, Dallas Independent School District, Dallas, Texas. Rivas will speak about the difficulties the Dallas Independent School District faced with the recent beef recall.
  • Penny Parham, Administrative Director - Department of Food and Nutrition, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami, Fla.
  • Kate Houston, Deputy Under Secretary, Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Kenneth Hecht, Executive Director, California Food Policy Advocates, San Francisco, Calif.

For a copy of Mary Hill's testimony and other information regarding the hearing, please visit Related Links.

Farm Bill Update

Media reports near the end of last week indicate the Farm Bill process remains deadlocked. Last week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., asked the negotiators to find a way, by Friday, to offset about $10 billion in extra spending in the interest of passing a Farm Bill this year that would meet with White House approval. But even if lawmakers — ¬particularly the leaders of the Senate Finance and the House Ways and Means Committees — meet that deadline, there is no guarantee the White House will buy into the plan. According to Washington, DC based CQ Daily, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, recently called recent talks with the White House “frustrating.” The panel’s ranking Republican, Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, likewise frowned and said negotiators “still have a long way to go” after he left a meeting with Agriculture Department officials. CQ Daily reports "The mood is quite different from a few weeks ago, when farm-state lawmakers were hopeful a breakthrough was close at hand. Since then, members of the tax and farm panels in both chambers have been trying to come up with a new funding mechanism for the measure (HR 2419). Under pay-as-you-go rules, any new spending must be offset by new tax revenue or funding cuts." Expanded funding for the fresh fruit and vegetable snack program is one of the provisions affected by the gridlock on the Farm Bill.

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Beef Recall

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies held a hearing on Thursday, February 28, 2008 regarding the recent USDA beef recall. Those testifying included:

  • Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer
  • USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Richard Raymond
  • Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Nancy Montanez Johner
  • Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Bruce Knight
  • Humane Society of the U.S. President & CEO Wayne Pacelle
  • American Meat Institute Foundation President James Hodges

During the hearing, Schafer stated that USDA will begin to complete more random inspections of slaughterhouses, as well as more unannounced audits of companies that prepare meat for the school nutrition programs.

Secretary Schafer also announced that he would not endorse a complete ban on “downer” cattle entering the food supply. This week, the Humane Society sued the USDA over that policy, calling it a “dangerous loophole.”

New York Times Covers School Lunch

On Saturday March 1, 2008, the New York Times carried a story on the front page describing possible over identification of free and reduced eligible students as a result of paid students exclusively using a la carte lines in San Francisco Unified School District. “Free Lunch Isn't Cool, So Some Students Go Hungry” quotes SNA president Mary Hill and describes the challenges involved particularly for districts without automate payment systems. See Related Links for the article.

CN on the Campaign Trail

The school nutrition programs were mentioned in speeches during the past few weeks by both Democratic presidential contenders. In a speech delivered on Thursday, February 28th, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) announced a plan to cut the child poverty rate by half in 12 years. Clinton stated that she would ask her agriculture secretary to develop a plan to reduce childhood hunger by expanding the food stamp program. In addition, Clinton would set up universal school breakfast programs in low-income neighborhoods and expand the summer food service program. She also proposed creating legislation that would allow schools to only sell foods that meet or surpass USDA standards.

As reported last week in Tuesday Morning, Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) recently gave a speech about the sale of soda and other foods of minimal nutritional value in schools. In response to a question about the sale of soda, Obama stated that parents need to play an active role in encouraging healthy habits at home, not just relying on the schools. Obama reiterated this opinion in a speech on Thursday, February 28th, where he stated that parents need to take on more personal responsibility and model healthy behaviors for their children.

School Breakfast Fuels Kids' Imaginations

This week is National School Breakfast Week, a time to recognize the important contributions of the School Breakfast Program. School breakfast provides the necessary fuel to start a day of learning and achievement, providing 25 percent of the recommended daily allowance of protein, calcium, iron, vitamins A and C and calories and meeting the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This year, school cafeterias turned into rocket lunch pads and students wrote and shared their creative short stories about how nutritious school breakfasts fuel their days in the “Fuel Your Imagination” creative writing contest.

The winners of this year's contest were announced this week. Selected from hundreds of essays, this year's winning stories are:

  • “Jacob Learns a Lesson” - Kun Liu, Grade 7, VA
  • “Thunderboy's Story” - Josue, Grade 5 (ESL), NC
  • “Smart Foods” - Kristen, Grade 10, MI

Each winner received an engraved plaque and had their story professionally illustrated. The winning entries can be viewed at www.schoolbreakfast.org, the official “Fuel Your Imagination” website.

School breakfast programs across the country are receiving considerable media attention. Last week, interviews were conducted in Indianapolis, Ind. and Detroit, Mich. Coverage is also expected in Seattle, Wash. this week.

Stay tuned to www.schoolnutrition.org for more information about National School Breakfast Week events!

Sliced, Fresh Apples for Schools through Commodity Pilot Program

A report from The Packer newspaper (February 18, 2008) noted that the U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to start a pilot program with fresh-cut apples in schools before the end of the current school year. The 2002 Farm Bill requires USDA to spend a minimum of $200 million on Section 32 purchases for specialty crops. This purchase would count towards that amount. David Tuckwiller, chief of the commodity procurement branch of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service spoke on the new pilot program at the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee's Feb. 7 meeting. He stated that the USDA lacks the infrastructure to move fresh produce in a timely fashion, and schools have opted to make purchases on their own or work with the Department of Defense through the DOD Fresh program. According to the article, the fresh-cut pilot program will involve schools that already buy sliced apples and have a distribution system in place as a result of the current infrastructure barriers. The pilot program initially will be limited to schools close to processors - possible in states such as Washington, Michigan, New York and California, according to Tuckwiller. Tuckwiller told the Packer that the program will offer substantial savings for schools, which will pay only for delivery from the distributor and in some cases state administration fees. If successful, the pilot would be expanded to include more schools in the 2008-09 school year. Tuckwiller said the program could be expanded to include items such as fresh-cut carrots or oranges the following school year. House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill would increase the minimum of Section 32 purchases for specialty crops to $390 million in fiscal 2008, $393 million in 2009, $399 million in 2010, $403 million in 2011 and $406 million in 2012. Tuckwiller said how much money is spent on the fresh-cut pilot program will be dictated by demand from 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, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and District of Columbia.

 


 
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