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SNA Press Releases

Students Vote for “President of School Lunch” in National Election

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact: Erik Peterson
703-739-9300 Ext. 124
epeterson@schoolnutrition.org 

Students Vote for “President of School Lunch” in National Election 

ALEXANDRIA, VA (Monday, September 29, 2008   ) -- Larry Lasagna, Petunia Pita Pocket, and Pete Pizza among Candidates Vying for Title after National School Lunch Week: Oct. 13-17

Alexandria, VA (September 29, 2008) – The non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) invites students nationwide to cast their ballot and participate in this year’s ‘Vote for School Lunch’ campaign to learn more about healthy meal choices at school.   Marking the final round of lunchroom elections in the three-year national campaign, this year’s candidates include Petunia Pita Pocket, Pete Pizza, Gloria Grilled Cheese, Larry Lasagna and Biff Burger.

The candidates are campaigning on their platform of sound dietary values, great taste and lunchroom versatility to be announced 'President of School Lunch' on Friday, October 24, 2008. Now through National School Lunch Week, October 13-17, Students can learn more about candidates and cast their vote in school cafeterias or online, at www.VoteForSchoolLunch.org.

The third and final year of the "Vote for School Lunch" program features a heated battle between candidates Pete Pizza, winner of the first-ever election in 2006; Biff Burger, winner of the 2007 fall election; and three new contenders that were designed and submitted by students: Gloria Grilled Cheese, Larry Lasagna and Petunia Pita Pocket. Each candidate will relay the nutritional benefits of their school meal versions as well as their physical fitness and extra curricular activities.

The campaign will help educate students and parents about healthy food choices and encourage them to partake in physical fitness activities. Providing an interactive opportunity to learn about healthy meal choices at school, Vote campaign activities include debates, contests and cafeteria elections. Hundreds of thousands of students have participated since the program began in 2006.

The campaign will be supported by incentive giveaways such as signs, buttons, stickers, mugs, t-shirts and hats during National School Lunch Week (NSLW).  Additional programs can include:

  • Election day: schools set up voting booths and establish a voting day
  • Costume contests: students and staff create fun costumes and dress up as their favorite characters.
  • Cafeteria debates: members of the student government represent each candidate
  • Essay contests: invent a Cafeteria Bill of Rights or amend the Cafeteria Constitution
  • Recipe write-ins: solicit entries for creative versions of each candidate
  • Media campaigns: Get school paper/broadcast journalism department to “follow the campaign trail”

SNA’s nationwide membership of 55,000 school nutrition professionals work in schools and in communities to provide balanced, nutritious school meals and information on proper portion sizes and nutrition education for children.
 
Within the federally funded National School Lunch Program:

  • Nationwide, 95% of schools participate and over 30 million children are served daily
  • Dietary guidelines dictate no more than 30 percent of calories can come from fat and less than 10 percent from saturated fat
  • Over the course of one week, lunches must provide 1/3 of the Recommended Dietary Allowances of protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, calcium and calories
  • Well-balanced school lunches include protein, fruits and vegetables, grains and low-fat milk and are served in age-appropriate portions

Signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1946, the National School Lunch Program provides nutritionally balanced low-cost and free meals to students. Since then school meals have evolved into balanced, nutritious options for students. According to the "State of School Nutrition 2007" report, school nutrition programs have introduced students to more fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and low-fat and reduced sugar food varieties. Today, a majority of schools offer fat-free milk, salad bars or prepackaged salads, low-fat yogurt and yogurt drinks, from-scratch baked items and even vegetarian meals.
 
National School Lunch Week was established in 1963 by a proclamation from President John F. Kennedy. It is designed to help raise awareness for the important role that school nutrition programs play in the lives of America’s children.  Each year, the School Nutrition Association helps schools celebrate NSLW with an official theme, suggested menus and recipes, promotional resources, activity sheets, decoration ideas and more. SNA's National School Lunch Week promotions are made possible in partnership with MilkPEP and Land O'Lakes School Foodservice.

About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA), www.schoolnutrition.org, is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country.  The Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals.  Founded in 1946, SNA is the only association devoted exclusively to protecting and enhancing children’s health and well being through school meals and sound nutrition education.

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Heats On: Report Analyzes Gap in School Lunch Funding

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Erik Peterson
703-739-3900 ext 124

epeterson@schoolnutrition.org

Heats On: Report Analyzes Gap in School Lunch Funding

Rising Food Prices Just One of the Pressures on Funding, According to School Nutrition Association


ALEXANDRIA, Va. (September 16, 2008) – The average cost to prepare a school lunch has increased 10% since the 2007-2008 school year, according to a report published today by the School Nutrition Association (SNA). Results from “Heats On: School Meals Under Financial Pressure” show the average cost rose from $2.63 to $2.90 for schools to prepare a nutritionally balanced school lunch that meets federal nutrition standards. Over the same timeframe, schools received only a 4.3% increase in the federal reimbursement for each free lunch provided to low income students. This funding gap could cost America’s school nutrition programs a potential loss of at least $4.5 million per school day, based on 30 million school lunches provided daily.

To prevent a compromise of nutritional integrity, school districts have responded by raising lunch prices to an average of $2.08 up from $1.96 in the 2007-2008 school year. According to the report, 73% of school districts are increasing prices for students. Even with the increases, the cost of a school lunch remains lower than the average cost to prepare a lunch at home (according to meal cost comparisons by Dr. Alice Jo Rainville of Eastern Michigan University).

School nutrition programs strive to offer affordable, healthy meals to students who buy a school lunch each day and are also working to control labor, food and supply costs to keep student meal prices reasonable. But double-digit increases in food costs combined with increases in labor rates, benefit costs, transportation and fuel charges and high prices of nutritious items such as whole grains create a situation where the cost to prepare a meal exceeds both the amount charged for the meal and the federal reimbursement issued for free and reduced meals.  SNA’s report indicated that 88% of school nutrition programs found the National School Lunch Program reimbursement insufficient in covering the cost of producing a meal during the 2007-2008 school year.  Given the rising costs for the upcoming school year, this figure is expected to increase in the coming months.

School nutrition professionals are addressing challenges in a variety of ways:

  • Making menu substitutions such as offering fewer choices, using healthy USDA commodity foods, improving the quality of products to increase participation, cooking from scratch, buying produce in season - 75%
  • Using financial reserves - 69%
  • Decreasing the labor force - 60%
  • Freezing or limiting travel - 53%
  • Cutting back on professional development - 26%
  • Joining a purchasing cooperative - 31%

School districts are not resorting to a la carte sales to make up the funding deficit, according to survey respondents.  As a result of local school wellness policies and state regulations, districts are restricted from selling certain unhealthy food and beverage a la carte items.

Next year, Congress will reauthorize the federal child nutrition programs, providing an opportunity to increase funding. Additional federal, state or local funding for school nutrition programs will go a long way to promoting healthy childhood weight and improving academic success in America’s children. Research has conclusively shown that students who eat balanced, nutritious meals perform better academically. Preventative policies like promoting fruit, vegetable, whole grain and low fat dairy consumption among children can teach healthy eating habits and cut into the estimated $75 billion per year cost of obesity-attributable medical expenditures in the United States.

“Heats On: School Meals Under Financial Pressure” is an analysis of information from 48 school nutrition programs that operate in some of the largest districts within the US.  The report tracks how costs within these programs have increased due to rising food, energy and labor expenses and what measures these school nutrition programs were taking to cope with increased expenses.  The School Nutrition Foundation (SNF) in partnership with Rich Products Corporation will be offering a webinar on Wednesday, October 8, 2008, at 2:30 PM EDT entitled “Paring Food Costs: Comparing Apples to Apples.” Information on the webinar and the full report of the analysis can be accessed through Related Links.

SNA, the School Nutrition Association, is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country.  The Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals. Founded in 1946, SNA is the only association devoted exclusively to protecting and enhancing children’s health and well being through school meals and sound nutrition education.

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Related Links

Heats On: School Meals Under Financial Pressure (PDF)

Impact of Rising Food Costs

Paring Food Costs: Comparing Apples to Apples 


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