Tuesday Morning - May 27, 2008


TAM header

May 27, 2008

In This Issue

House, Senate Override President’s Farm Bill Veto
Action Alert: School Nutrition Funding
In the News: Cost of Food and School Nutrition
Comment Now on Child Nutrition Reauthorization
USDA to Ban Downer Cows from Food Supply
School Board Publication Focuses on School Nutrition
Hawaii Adopts School Wellness Guidelines

In Every Issue

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


House, Senate Override President’s Farm Bill Veto

Both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate voted to override President Bush’s veto of the Farm Bill last week. The week prior both chambers of Congress passed the farm Bill by large margins. On May 20, 2008, the President vetoed the bill citing the large agricultural subsidies and direct payments included in the bill. The House of Representatives responded by voting 316 to 108 to override the veto, with 100 Republicans siding with 216 Democrats. The Senate voted to override the veto on May 22, 2008, by a vote of 82 to 13. A clerical error on the House side has casts the final votes into question with the issue yet to be resolved. Highlights from the Nutrition title of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill) include:

  • Provides more fresh fruits and vegetables to school children: The bill includes a tremendous expansion of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which provides free fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income children in schools. Over the next ten years, $1 billion is invested in this initiative, which will allow it to serve as many as 3 million low-income children.
  • Updates the name of the food stamp program: The new name is the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
  • Increases the food purchasing ability of low-income households: As a result of deep cuts to the Food Stamp Program in the mid-1990s, the purchasing power of families’ food assistance benefits has eroded greatly over time. The farm bill invests significant resources – $5.4 billion over the next ten years – to end that erosion and partially restore benefit levels that have been lost.
  • Increases the minimum benefit: The current minimum benefit is set at $10 and has not been raised in over 30 years. The bill raises the minimum benefit to $14 and indexes that level to future inflation.
  • Strengthens assistance for food banks: With the recent surge in food prices and economic recession, local area food banks are struggling to help low-income families put food on their tables. To help strengthen the domestic food assistance safety net, the farm bill provides $1.256 billion over the next ten years to increase commodity purchases for food banks – an increase to nearly double the current level of funding.
  • Promotes Community Food Projects: The bill provides $50 million for USDA to provide competitive grants to eligible organizations for community food projects, such as school gardens

Action Alert: School Nutrition Funding

alertAct now to send the message to Congress that additional reimbursement is needed to menu healthy school meals. SNA is currently reviewing all legislative options to help increase school nutrition funding in light of recent increased food costs. You can take action now by emailing your Senators and Member of Congress to share how rising food prices are impacting your school nutrition programs. Thank you to all SNA members who have already contacted Congress, almost 700 messages have been sent to members of Congress so far this month.

In the News: The Cost of Food and School Nutrition

SNA Headquarters continues to field 3 to 5 press calls a day concerning rising food costs.  Some of the recent news organizations covering this issue include the San Antonio Express-News, ABC World News Tonight and Business Week Television with more expected this week. Since April 15, 2008, over 18 million households have been reached with key SNA messages on the need for additional funding for school meals through TV and radio broadcast and print media.  Additional coverage is expected.

Comment Now on Child Nutrition Reauthorization

Last week the USDA issued a request for public comments in the Federal Register: "Request for Public Comments for Use in Preparing the 2009 Reauthorization of the Child Nutrition and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children." The comment period ends October 15, 2008.  Model comments and various other materials representing SNA member priorities will be made available by SNA during the period leading up to October 15th.

USDA states that "Commenters will be asked to address, but not be limited to, issues related to specific aspects of WIC, the WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program, National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, Summer Food Service Program, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, and Special Milk Program. Key among these are:

  • Strengthening program management and improving nutrition services,
  • Ensuring that all eligible persons have access to program benefits, and
  • Advancing technology and innovation.

These three points are the same as those generally being announced as key topics for the regional listening sessions. They are important topics, but school nutrition professionals should by no means feel limited by them. This comment period and the regional hearings will be important opportunities for school nutrition professionals and others to provide recommendations on improving access, meal quality and nutrition in the programs that are due for reauthorization: school breakfast and lunch, summer feeding, after school and child and adult care food programs, fresh fruit and vegetable program, WIC and the WIC farmers' market nutrition program.

Reminder: Northeast Region Reauthorization listening session - June 10 – Boston. See Related Links to RSVP. USDA also recently posted more information on listening session dates for the other regions including locations and times. See Related Links for the list.

USDA to Ban Downer Cows from Food Supply

beefThe Bush administration said it will bar meatpackers from slaughtering cows too sick to stand on their own, after the White House came under pressure from Congress, the meat industry and animal-rights activists. The government already bans most "downer cows" from the food supply, but some are permitted for slaughter after they clear further inspection by federal veterinarians. Last year, the Agriculture Department said the number was fewer than 1,000. “Downer cows” have previously been banned from inclusion in USDA commodity purchases destined for the federal child nutrition programs. 

Downer cows pose a higher risk of passing along infections such as mad-cow disease, which can cause a rare but fatal disorder in humans. The proposed new regulation, which is expected to become effective in "months," aims to boost consumer confidence and "will positively impact the humane handling of cattle by reducing the incentive to send marginally weakened cattle to market," said Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer.

School Board Publication Focuses on School Nutrition

The June issue of the American School Board Journal published by the National School Boards Association, centers on school nutrition with three feature articles on the management and oversight of school food operations. Among those offering their expertise and perspective in the articles are SNA president-elect Katie Wilson, SNS PhD as well as past SNA president Gertrude Applebaum. The articles in the issue include:

  • Managing Your School Food Service Program” by Naomi Dillon emphasizes the challenges in maintaining financial self-sufficiency for school nutrition programs in an environment of increasing costs.
  • Should You Outsource Your Food Service Program?” by Joetta Sack-Min, examines the decision for school boards of whether to privatize food service management.
  • “Children's Nutrition Is a Governance Issue“ by David Tokofsky argues that child nutrition programs are valuable and deserve the attention of local school boards.

See Related Links to access all three articles online.

Hawaii Adopts School Wellness Guidelines

The Hawaii Department of Education has announced plans to implement new state wellness guidelines to improve students' health according to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Under the new plan, schools will be required to provide at least 20 minutes of recess daily for students, as well as meet nutrition requirements for meals and snacks. Developed collaboratively by the state departments of health and education, along with guidance from parents, teachers, students and other partners, the guidelines require vending machines to include only water, low or nonfat milk, and 12-ounce juice drinks. In addition, the plan bans all products that list sugar as the primary ingredient or contain more than eight grams of fat, two grams of saturated fat, 200 calories or 200 milligrams of sodium per serving. To help schools implement the plan, the state is hosting workshops this month for school teams and summer workshops for business leaders, who can help fundraise and support schools' purchases of healthy products. Schools will have until June 2011 to fully comply with the guidelines, See Realted Links for details. 

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, Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and District of Columbia.

2007 - 2008 Public Policy and Legislative Committee Contacts

Craig Weidel

PPL Committee Chair

Cindy Brooks

Northeast Region

Sara Gasiorowski

Mideast Region

Annette Bomar Hopgood

Southeast Region

Cindy Hormel

Midwest Region

Melanie Konarik

Southwest Region 

Lyman Graham,

West Region

Lincoln Pierce

Northwest Region

School Nutrition Association

Child Nutrition and Policy Center 


Contact Us Advertise on SNA Site Map Media Center Privacy Policy

© 2000 - 2014 School Nutrition Association, All Rights Reserved