Tuesday Morning - June 6, 2017

An Update on Federal and State Policy Issues
from SNA

Table of Contents

Federal Policy

Food Safety Inspections Reporting Reinstated
SNA Addresses “School Lunch Shaming”
Plan a Kick-Off Event for Summer Meals! 
SNA CEO Writes OpEd on Child Nutrition for The Hill

State Snapshots

States Weigh in on Unpaid Meal Charge Policy

Mark Your Calendars

SNA's Upcoming Webinars

Cafeteria Chat Corner


Federal Policy

Food Safety Inspections Reporting Reinstated

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released a memo that provides guidance regarding the reinstatement of the food safety inspections reporting requirements for state agencies. The food safety inspections were previously required under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs for FY 2011 through FY 2015, and have been amended to require them for FY 2017. Schools must obtain a food safety inspection twice a year by a state or local agency, then put together an inspection report that states the total number of schools that obtained zero inspections, one inspection, two inspections, and three or more inspections. Reports must be submitted by November 15, 2017 to NSLPFoodSafetyInspections@fns.usda.gov.

SNA Addresses “School Lunch Shaming”

With the introduction of the companion “Anti-Lunch Shaming Act of 2017” bills in both the House and the Senate last month, school lunch shaming has become a hot topic. In April, SNA issued a press release commenting on “School Lunch Shaming,” noting that while Federal funds are provided for students enrolled in the school meal programs, non-enrolled students need to be charged to cover food and labor costs.

"No school nutrition professional wants to see a child go hungry or feel any shame during mealtime - we dedicate our lives to providing access to healthy, balanced meals to all students. While we can't speak to every district, overwhelmingly, schools today are working to minimize any stigma associated with free or reduced price meals and remove any barriers for students in need," said SNA President Becky Domokos-Bays, PhD, RD, SNS.

Unpaid meal debts have become a growing problem for schools, and USDA has issued regulations mandating that schools implement unpaid meal policies by the start of the 2017-18 school year. Schools should use a variety of methods to address unpaid meal debts and communicating the unpaid meal policy to the school community is vital for a successful school meal program.

Plan a Kick-Off Event for Summer Meals!

Last week’s Tuesday Morning highlighted the resources available for summer meal site operators to help kids and families get excited about healthy eating and physical activity during the summer months. A kick-off event is a great way to raise awareness for parents and communities about the Summer Meal Programs available for those who need it most while school meal programs are not available. The kick-off can be conducted at the state or local levels and should include activities, partnerships and plenty of community outreach.

USDA’s Summer Food Service Program website provides some great resources and promotional materials, and the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) also has a toolkit designed to conduct outreach and plan your Summer Nutrition Programs. USDA also has a Summer Meals Newsletter for Sponsors as well as a Newsletter for State Agencies. SNA also has sharable content available for members for your summer meal program needs!

Summer is fast approaching, and perhaps even already started in some parts of the country, so make sure your Summer Meal Program operations are ready to go and that outreach is being conducted so more kids, teenagers and families know where to get the nutritious meals they need during the summer.

SNA CEO Writes OpEd on Child Nutrition for The Hill

SNA CEO Patricia Montague wrote an opinion editorial for The Hill titled, “ Teachable moment: If we want healthier school lunches to succeed we need to start with the children.” The editorial addressed some of the challenges that school cafeterias face across the country regarding school meal programs and the nutrition standards that were introduced in 2012 as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. As Columbia University professor of pediatrics pointed out in his criticism of the Association, USDA estimated the standards would cost school districts $1.2 billion in food and labor expenses in fiscal 2015 alone, or an additional 10 cents for each lunch. Schools did not get this $1.2 billion, and are only reimbursed 6 cents to cover the additional costs, so school nutrition professionals have had to get creative with meals even as National School Lunch Program participation has declined by 1 million students per day since 2014. Montague points out that SNA’s request for meal planning flexibility is not a request to “roll back” healthy eating standards and let kids have free reign on eating unhealthy items in the cafeteria, but rather it addresses practical solutions to fix what is not working.

State Snapshots

States Weigh in on Unpaid Meal Charge Policy

With USDA’s upcoming July 1, 2017 deadline for schools to implement an established unpaid meal plan policy, several state legislatures are working to provide some guidance.

Hawaii
SB 423 has passed both the House and Senate and is waiting for the Governor’s signature. The bill would prohibit denying a free/reduced category student a meal for the first 30 days of the school year or the first week that the student carries an unpaid meal balance. The bill also authorizes the Department of Education to adopt rules or policies on the collection of funds for negative student meal balances.

Oregon
HB 3454, introduced May 4th, describes that schools must provide a USDA meal to a student who requests it regardless of whether the student has money to pay and unless the parent or guardian has provided written permission to withhold. Among other requirements, if a student owes a balance of five or more meals the school district must work to identify free/reduce eligibility. Schools are prohibited from public identification of a student who cannot pay for a meal or carries an unpaid meal balance.

California
SB 250, the Child Hunger Prevention and Fair Treatment Act of 2017 passed the Senate on May 31st. The bill prohibits schools from taking disciplinary action that results in denying or delaying a meal to a pupil. The bill requires LEA’s to identify families with an unpaid school meal balance greater than 5 meals and exhaust all options to directly certify the student for free or reduced-price meals.

New York
SB 6036 directs the commissioner to design a “consistent and transparent” unpaid meal charge policy. The policy is required to include information on how delinquent meal charge debt is to be collected and must ensure that identification of students with insufficient funds is “minimal.” Alternate meals for students with unpaid balances is prohibited.

Mark Your Calendars

SNA's Upcoming Webinars

Learn about hot topics in school nutrition with SNA’s popular professional development webinars.

2017 ANC Mobile App and More Webinar
Tuesday, June 20, 2017, 2:00 pm EST
If you are attending SNA’s Annual National Conference (ANC) in Atlanta, you don’t want to miss this webinar. Get the inside scoop on everything you need to know about ANC from exploring the mobile app to building your own agenda to having a unique conference experience. Tune in to find out why ANC is the School Nutrition Event of the Year! No CEUS will be awarded for this webinar.


Cafeteria Chat Corner

Countdown to ANC: 33 Days!
Over the years, industry had begun to play more and more of a role in working with SNA to help improve child nutrition, as manufacturers evolved to meet the needs of the programs. An example of SNA working productively with industry was at ANC 2001 in Nashville, Tenn., where the National Dairy Council designed a training program and accompanying breakout session to assist a school in creating an alternative breakfast program. The working relationship continues at this year’s ANC in Atlanta with new “SPARK” sessions that allow for attendees to learn about new industry resources and “Ask the Expert” about relevant industry topics. The “SPARK” sessions will take place in the exhibit hall at various times throughout the conference. Visit www.schoolnutrition.org/anc for more information.

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