Tuesday Morning - April 11, 2017

An Update on Federal and State Policy Issues
from SNA

Table of Contents

Federal Policy

2017 Legislative Action Conference Recap
Senate’s Budget and Nutrition Programs 
SNAPa Recognized on House Floor
Sonny Perdue Confirmation Update
Chairman Pat Roberts Sends Letter to USDA Seeking Flexibility in School Meals

State Snapshots

Maryland Meals for Achievement and Hunger-Free Schools Acts
Arkansas Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Act

Mark Your Calendars

SNA's Upcoming Webinars

Cafeteria Chat Corner


Federal Policy

2017 Legislative Action Conference Recap

SNA’s 2017 Legislative Action Conference took place from Sunday, April 2, until Tuesday, April 4, with a pre-conference session on Saturday, April 1. Here’s a recap of everything you missed!

The first day of the conference featured an opening luncheon followed by a keynote address by Pulitzer Prize winner and presidential historian, Jon Meacham. Meacham was a hit, providing useful insight into the current political landscape while at the same time making the audience laugh with his jokes and anecdotes about his experiences with Washington. The day also featured several breakout sessions on topics such as LAC First Timers, Successful State Lobbying Strategies, Recruit and Retain School Nutrition Millennials, and Hot Topics in School Nutrition! The afternoon general session was titled “No Holds Barred- Kids Say the Darndest Things!” and certainly lived up to its name. A panel of seven kids of varying ages from Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties in Maryland fielded questions from SNA President Becky Domokos-Bays, as well as the audience, on all sorts of topics relating to school lunch. The kids held nothing back, as they talked about the things they liked and disliked about school lunch, as well as their ideas on how to improve it. The first day of the conference contained no shortage of entertainment and useful perspectives.

The second day of LAC kicked off with an informational USDA 2017 Update, where several officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture discussed child nutrition program activities, research, USDA Foods and other relevant topics. This was followed by a “Fireside Chat” with Washington Insiders, which featured a lively, bi-partisan discussion between former USDA Secretary Dan Glickman, former USDA Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner, former USDA Food and Nutrition Service Administrator William Hoagland, and former U.S. Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-SD), and was moderated by Agri-Pulse Senior Editor, Phil Brasher. The panelists shared tips and advice for members as they prepared to “Charge the Hill,” as well as provided them with a wealth of knowledge regarding the legislative, budget and regulatory processes in Washington. The final general session consisted of a Presentation of the SNA 2017 Position Paper and Charge the Hill. SNA Vice President of Government Affairs and Media Relations Cathy Schuchart and SNA Public Policy & Legislation Committee Chair Doug Davis took attendees through everything they needed to know before their visits with their representatives. From extensive detail about each position on the 2017 Position Paper and why it was chosen, to important details about key Congressional members, the presentation was packed with critical information necessary for effective Hill visits. LAC presentations are now available on SchoolNutrition.org.

On the last day, Tuesday, April 4, members took everything they learned from their two days at the conference and headed to Capitol Hill to advocate for the vital child nutrition programs that help keep the kids in their school districts fed and healthy. Overall the conference was a success, and SNA hopes attendees got everything out of it that they wanted, and more!

Senate’s Budget and Nutrition Programs

Government funding runs out on April 28, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he is confident that they would be able to pass a fiscal 2017 spending bill by that time. There seems to be a difference of opinion between the two chambers however, as House lawmakers and aides have said they foresee the enactment of a week-long stopgap measure to buy time beyond the April 28 deadline, and the Senate says they are not considering the idea of a short-term continuing resolution. Though the timing of the spending bill is uncertain, school nutrition professionals can take some solace in Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black’s position that school nutrition should be a priority in the budget. Black is an ally of Agriculture Secretary Nominee, Sonny Perdue, and said that the school nutrition program and teaching kids about food production is a priority that should not be axed as lawmakers and the Trump administration look for ways to reduce USDA spending. Perdue has not given a position on where he stands on school lunches and other school nutrition programs, but Black is confident he will be a strong voice for defending priority programs, if confirmed.

SNAPa Recognized on House Floor

On the morning of Tuesday, April 4, Congressman Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania read a commendation on the House floor recognizing the School Nutrition Association of Pennsylvania (SNAPa), members of which he was meeting with later that day. The commendation acknowledged the essential services that SNAPa works to provide, and the importance of serving high-quality, low-cost meals to students. Congressman Glenn Thompson is the new Chairman of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition and a senior member on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, and is well-versed in the issues that school nutrition professionals and SNA face while advocating for school nutrition programs.

Sonny Perdue Confirmation Update

The full Senate has finally scheduled a vote on the confirmation of Sonny Perdue as Secretary of the U.S Department of Agriculture for 5:30 pm on April 24. The Senate Agriculture Committee approved Perdue on March 30, but when the nominee was brought to the Senate floor Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) raised concerns about Perdue’s stance on Cuba. After Perdue spoke with both Senators via phone about their concerns, there is expected to be little objection to his nomination. Though this will end the months of delay, the confirmation will not be done before the Senate breaks for a two-week spring recess.

Chairman Pat Roberts Sends Letter to USDA Seeking Flexibility in School Meals

On April 6, 2017, U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, (R-KS), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture urging regulatory relief from rigid school meal standards, specifically sodium limits and whole grain and dairy requirements.

“The current waiver system does not provide schools and those involved in planning and preparing school meals with the necessary flexibility and certainty. I urge you to act administratively and provide immediate relief from certain egregious aspects of the standards, particularly in regards to the rapidly approaching sodium limits and the dairy and whole grain requirements. After providing immediate relief, I urge you to provide long-term flexibility and certainty for our schools, our school foodservice directors, and other stakeholders.”

Chairman Roberts has long been an advocate for flexibility in school meal standards, repeatedly calling on the Administration to provide regulatory relief to local school districts. Read the letter to USDA and press release from the Committee.

State Snapshots

Maryland Meals for Achievement and Hunger-Free Schools Acts

Last week was a big boon for school meal programs in Maryland. The Hunger-Free Schools Act of 2017, and the Maryland Meals for Achievement, passed the Maryland legislature House and Senate. The Hunger-Free Schools Act of 2017 allows high-poverty schools to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students. The Maryland Meals for Achievement Act allows high-poverty schools to serve breakfast in the classroom to all students, free of charge. You can read more about both pieces of legislation on the Maryland Hunger Solutions website.

Arkansas Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Act

HB 1839, the Local Food, Farms and Jobs Act, moved fast through the Arkansas legislature House and Senate chambers and was signed by Arkansas governor, Asa Hutchinson, on March 24, 2017. The bill aims to strengthen and expand local farm and food economies by supporting the procurement of local farm products. The Arkansas Agriculture Department shall establish a program coordinator position whose duties will include facilitating involvement in the Farm to School Program.

Mark Your Calendars

SNA's Upcoming Webinars

Learn about hot topics in school nutrition and earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) with SNA’s popular professional development webinars.

Whole Grain Pasta Meals That Rock! Smart Practices For Preparing and Marketing School Meals that Kids will Love
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Today, more and more are finding delicious successes by first choosing better products and improving back-of-house cooking procedures. In this webinar, you’ll discover success stories straight from directors of districts big and small, and learn how to adapt them to your own. Successful completion of the webinar and quiz is awarded 1 SNA CEU, or 1 CPEU for RDs/DTRs.

Best of #SNIC17 3 of 4: Innovative Menu Planning
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Chef Sharon’s webinar from her action-packed General Session at this year's SNIC will wow you with ways to boost participation through new school meal recipes. She will focus on recipes that highlight ethnic, trendy and popular flavors in the food world right now. Successful completion of the webinar and quiz is awarded 1 SNA CEU, or 1 CPEU for RDs/DTRs.

Community Eligibility: Ensuring Successful Implementation and Expansion in the 2017-2018 School Year
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Over 20,000 schools have successfully implemented the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) and are now offering breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students. Join this webinar to learn about the many benefits of the provision and participation trends for this school year. Successful completion of the webinar and quiz is awarded 1 SNA CEU, or 1 CPEU for RDs/DTRs.


Cafeteria Chat Corner

Countdown to ANC: 88 Days!
SNA’s Annual National Conference (ANC) is a one-of-a-kind experience that unites more than 6,000 attendees from school nutrition, industry, and allied organizations. This year’s ANC will take place in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 9-12 and will feature over 120 education sessions. For the next few weeks, Cafeteria Chat Corner will be counting down to ANC while providing information, fun facts and historical tidbits about the conference. Be sure to register today so you can secure a hotel room ASAP!

Register for SNA's 2017 Annual National Conference (ANC)

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