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SNA News Releases

SNA Appoints Working Group to Develop Meal Pattern Implementation Guide

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SNA has appointed an ad hoc working group to develop a “Practical How-To Guide” for SNA members to assist in the challenges of implementing the new meal pattern requirements scheduled to go in to effect this fall. The ad hoc group will be composed of representatives from USDA, state agencies, food service operators, and industry. The working group will meet via a series of conference calls to develop the “New Meal Pattern Guidelines: A Companion Guide.” The Guide will address both breakfast and lunch meal pattern requirements. This training resource will be unveiled at ANC in Denver, CO in July of 2012 as part of two “hot topic” education sessions.

The Ad Hoc group will consist of the following state agency directors: Colleen Fillmore (ID), Catherine Digilio Grimes (VA), Lynn Harvey (NC), Katie Millett (MA) and Robin Safley (FL). Individuals representing the food service operator segment include: Wanda Grant (CA), Penny McConnell (VA), Jean Ronnei (MN), and Ken Yant (GA). Pat McCoy of Schwan’s Food Service, Inc., will participate on behalf of the SNA industry segment. George Sneller, former Child Nutrition Director, Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington will serve as the project consultant. A representative from USDA will also participate in project development.

SNA members are encouraged to share their comments, concerns and challenges they are facing with the ad hoc group. Please feel to contact SNA staff liaisons to this project: Cathy Schuchart, SNA VP, Child Nutrition and Policy and Danny Seymour, SNA Dean of Education at the following email addresses: cschuchart@schoolnutrition.org and dseymour@schoolnutrition.org.

Interim Rule Amends Meal Requirements for the National School Lunch Program Under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010

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USDA has published an interim rule that amends National School Lunch Program regulations to conform to requirements contained in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 regarding performance-based cash assistance for school food authorities certified compliant with meal pattern and nutrition standards. This rule requires State agencies to certify participating school food authorities (SFAs) that are in compliance with meal pattern and nutrition standard requirements as eligible to receive performance-based cash assistance for each reimbursable lunch served (an additional six cents per lunch available beginning October 1, 2012 and adjusted annually thereafter).

This rule also requires State agencies to disburse performance-based cash assistance to certified SFAs, and withhold the performance-based cash assistance if the SFA is determined to be out of compliance with meal pattern or nutrition standards during a subsequent administrative review.

The intended effect of this rule is to provide additional funding for SFAs to implement new meal pattern requirements, thus increasing the healthfulness of meals served to school children.

This interim rule is effective July 1, 2012.

Comments regarding rule provisions will be accepted until July 26, 2012.

Here is the full text of the interim rule.
The School Nutrition Foundation will be hosting a webinar with USDA officials on May 16, 2012 from 2:00-3:15pm ET explaining this interim rule. Register here for the webinar.

SNA Requests Breakfast Commodities in Farm Bill

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April 20, 2012 – SNA CEO Frank DiPasquale has sent a letter to the leaders of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee to request that the Farm Bill include 10 cents per meal in commodity support for the School Breakfast Program.

Securing commodities for school breakfast is a key priority in SNA’s 2012 Legislative Issue Paper. SNA’s letter, sent to Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), notes that commodity support is critical to helping schools manage the increased cost of the new breakfast meal pattern.

To read the complete letter, click here.

New USDA Farm to School Grant Program

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USDA has announced a new Farm to School Grant Program on April 17, 2012.  Districts seeking funding to start a new program will need to identify a community partner, and will be encouraged to collaborate with other districts.  USDA will be sharing more information and will be seeking feedback on implementation of the program.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) amended the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA) to establish a Farm to School program in order to assist, through grants and technical assistance, the implementing of farm to school programs that improve access to local foods in eligible schools. 

In this first funding cycle, FNS anticipates awarding up to $3.5 million in grant funding to support efforts that improve access to local foods in eligible schools.  Grant funds will be made available on a competitive basis, subject to availability of Federal funds. Applicants are encouraged to first submit a Letter of Intent and then apply for either a Planning Grant or an Implementation Grant. Planning grants are expected to range from $20,000 - $45,000 and represent approximately 25 percent of the total awards. Implementation grants are expected to range from $65,000 - $100,000 and represent approximately 75 percent of the total awards. For both types of grants, the applicant must provide at least 25 percent of the costs of the grant project as the Federal share of costs for this grant cannot exceed 75 percent of the total cost of the project, as required by the HHFKA.

Important Dates and Deadlines 

  • April 17, 2012: Request for Applications Released 
  • May 18, 2012: (Suggested) Letter of Intent Deadline 
  • June 15, 2012: Proposals Due 
  • (Pending the Availability of Federal Funds) Shortly after October 1, 2012: Awards Announced and Funds Available

For more information click here.

 

USDA Celebrates their 150th Birthday

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In honor of the USDA’s 150th Birthday, the School Nutrition Association sent a special congratulatory letter to US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The letter thanks USDA for all of their work involving school meal programs and recognizes the link between school feeding and agriculture programs.

Happy 150th Birthday, USDA!

To read the letter, click here.

Proposed Rule on Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

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April 3, 2012 – The Proposed Rule on the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program was recently published in the Federal Register and is available on the School Meals website. This proposed rule would establish the basic requirements for the operation of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) for the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act. It would set forth administrative and operational requirements for FFVP operators at the state and local levels. The intent of these provisions is to ensure that the FFVP encourages the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables by school children to help improve their dietary habits and long-term health.

Comments on this proposed rule must be received by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service on or before April 24, 2012. All comments can be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal, or submitted to Julie Brewer, Chief, Policy and Program Development Branch, Child Nutrition Division, Food and Nutrition Service, USDA, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 634, Alexandria, VA 22302.

To read the full rule, click here. You can also read SNA’s submission on the Proposed Rule here.

USDA Food Distribution National Policy Memo

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On March 30, 2012, the US Department of Agriculture released a memo in regards to the school lunch program and donated foods that contain lean finely textured beef (LFTB). The USDA regards LFTB to be a safe and nutritious product. Specifications for school year 2012 beef purchases allows schools the option of using LTFB with the exception of in canned beef, boneless beef combos, and special trim products. Current inventory and pending deliveries may or may not contain LFTB.

USDA is strongly encouraging schools to use the inventory and products that may or may not contain LFTB as originally intended. If schools decide not to use these products, they will not be reimbursed or provided credit.

For more information, read the full memo here.


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