Tuesday Morning - March 28, 2017

An Update on Federal and State Policy Issues
from SNA

Table of Contents

Federal Policy

Sonny Perdue Sails Through Confirmation Hearing
Reporting Annual Income on School Meal Applications 
Community Eligibility Provision: Annual Notification and Publication Requirements
Reporting Guidance for Results of the Administrative Reviews Conducted in School Year 2015-16

State Snapshots

Maine Bill for Online Free and Reduced Application
Texas Unpaid Meals Bill

Mark Your Calendars

SNA's Upcoming Webinars
USDA Unpaid Meals Webinar

Cafeteria Chat Corner


Federal Policy

Sonny Perdue Sails Through Confirmation Hearing

Sonny Perdue, dressed up in a tie with tractors on it, had his Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, March 23, for Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The hearing was relatively painless compared to the hearings for Trump Administration’s other nominees, and Perdue appears to have widespread support from both parties. Lasting about two hours, questions for Perdue were centered around trade, Trump’s “skinny budget,” farm labor, and the plight of American dairy farmers. When asked about Trump’s proposed budget, Perdue was quick to point out that he had no input into the budget and that he recognizes the importance of the programs that are part of the Department of Agriculture’s budget.

Perdue did not receive questions about ethics concerns during his time as governor nor climate change, and only one about the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program, which makes up around 75 percent of USDA spending. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Chair, Pat Roberts (R-KS) believes Sonny Perdue’s confirmation process will be a speedy process from here, though he did not ensure that it would get done before the Easter recess.

Reporting Annual Income on School Meal Applications

USDA clarified guidance on the permissibility of including annual income reporting frequencies on free and reduced price school meals applications. Annual income reporting is allowed on the applications because it may be the best way to capture income that occurs at infrequent intervals, such as weekly paychecks, monthly child support, seasonal work, agriculture work, or self-employment. Reporting some income sources as annual amounts on the free and reduced meal application may provide the local educational agency (LEA) with the most accurate measure of a household’s current income and may reduce improper program payments tied to applicant error. The memo also revises the existing Administrative Review requirements for state agencies as they relate to applications on which annualized income is reported in whole or in part. State agencies and LEAs are no longer required to issue pre-certification reviews or confirm annual incomes with the sources, as previously called for in past versions of the Eligibility Manual for School Meals and the Administrative Review Manual. View the USDA memo for more information.

Community Eligibility Provision: Annual Notification and Publication Requirements

USDA released a memo detailing guidance on the annual Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) notification and publication requirements. State agencies are required to annually notify local education agencies (LEAs) of district-wide eligibility for CEP and LEAs must annually submit school-level eligibility data to the state agency. By May 1, state agencies must publish lists of eligible and near-eligible LEAs and schools on their state agency websites and submit the lists to the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) for publishing. The memo goes on to provide detailed information to assist state agencies with fulfilling the CEP notification and publication requirements, and encourages sate agencies to use the USDA-developed reporting template. View the full USDA memo for more information.

Reporting Guidance for Results of the Administrative Reviews Conducted in School Year 2015-16

New reporting guidance for the state agencies that conducted reviews utilizing the Administrative Review process for SY 2015-16 are provided. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is requesting from state agencies who utilized the Administrative Review process two complete sets of SY 2015-16 Administrative Review forms, tools and workbooks for two school food authorities (SFAs). The memo lists requirements necessary of the SFAs whose reviews are selected for submission. State agencies that used the Coordinated Review Effort in SY 2015-16 will be contacted with information on reporting and FNS-640 has been revised and can no longer be used to report on the Coordinated Review Effort. Review the full USDA memo.

State Snapshots

Maine Bill for Online Free and Reduced Application

State Senator Shenna Bellows (D) introduced a bill to improve the applications process for free and reduced price meals. The bill requires the Maine Department of Education to develop an online application for eligible students for free and reduced-price meals. The school would also be required to maintain paper applications.

Texas Unpaid Meals Bill

State Representative Helen Giddings (D) introduced HB 2159 which addresses Texas unpaid school meals. A district that allows students to use prepaid meal cards or accounts to purchase meals shall adopt a grace period policy regarding the use of the card or account. The policy must allow a meal balance with insufficient funds to continue for a grace period of at least two weeks. The school is also required to follow specific steps in attempting to notify a parent or guardian and assist in completion of a free or reduced price meal application if applicable.

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.

Buy American Act
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Learn more about the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act’s (NSLA) Buy American provision, including an overview of the history and current regulations of Buy American in the NSLP. Successful completion of the webinar and quiz is awarded 1 SNA CEU, or 1 CPEU for RDs/DTRs.

Potatoes: From Seeds to Your School Cafeteria
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Learn and identify the benefits of using potatoes and other vegetables in schools meals. Walk away with new school recipes for fresh, frozen, and dehydrated potatoes. Successful completion of the webinar and quiz is awarded 1 SNA CEU, or 1 CPEU for RDs/DTRs.

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.

USDA Unpaid Meals Webinar

SFA’s are required to have an unpaid meal policy in place by SY 2017-18. On Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 2:30 pm EST, USDA will host the webinar about local charge policies. Entitled, Unpaid Meal Charges: Local Charge Policy Requirement , this webinar will include an overview of USDA’s work around unpaid meal charges, a detailed overview of local meal charge policies, and time for questions. Interaction and participation is encouraged during the webinar. USDA’s Unpaid Meal Charges Website houses their current resources, including guidance, handbooks, checklists, and a Q&A.


Cafeteria Chat Corner

Countdown to LAC: 5 Days!
The final day of SNA’s 2017 Legislative Action Conference, Tuesday, April 4, consists of a “Charge to the Hill.” On this day, attendees will be meeting with the Congressmen, Senators, and/or staffers to advocate on behalf of school nutrition. After the day of meetings, it is important for attendees to make sure they turn in their feedback forms so that the data can be collected and used to evaluate and develop the Association’s strategy on the Hill.

Speaking of Data...
There are two useful places where you can find data, information, and research on child nutrition. The first is SNA’s own website. Here, you have access to various research SNA has conducted, such as the SNA Operations Report and the NSLP and SBP Participation Tracking presentations. Another useful site is the USDA Food and Nutrition Service website. Here you can find a multitude of child nutrition tables filled with valuable data and statistics reflecting the growth and effectiveness of the programs. The more you know about child nutrition and the programs that help to support it, the more powerful of an advocate you can be!

LAC Then & Now:
In 2000, SNA held its 28th Legislative Action Conference. One speaker at the program was Ann Veneman, a former deputy secretary at USDA, and was, at the time, considered a possible candidate for Secretary of Agriculture should George W. Bush win the election. Ann Veneman did win the nomination and was sworn in as the 27th Secretary of Agriculture in 2001. Tipper Gore, wife of Democrat candidate Al Gore, also made an appearance at SNA’s 2000 LAC to formally announce a USDA grant of $370,000 for the welfare-to-work School Cafeterias as Community Kitchens project, developed by ASFSA (SNA’s former name) and the School Food Service Foundation. This year’s LAC features an array of guests and panelists who will provide all kinds of useful insights. Check out SNA’s LAC page to see who all will be attending!

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