School Nutrition Professionals Call for Congress’ Help during National School Lunch Week

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner  

301-686-3124  

media@schoolnutrition.org  

School Nutrition Professionals Call for Congress’ Help during National School Lunch Week  

 2015-10-12

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD – This National School Lunch Week (October 12-16), as school cafeteria professionals promote the benefits of healthy school meals, they are calling on Congress to provide greater support to sustain school meal programs into the future.

School nutrition professionals nationwide have long encouraged students to make healthy choices in the cafeteria, and have redoubled those efforts as schools work to meet new nutrition standards. 

A recent School Nutrition Association (SNA) survey revealed schools promote healthier options to students through student taste tests, nutrition education, Smarter Lunchroom techniques and Farm to School programs. “Tasting Tuesdays,” “Wild Fruit Wednesdays” and “Chew, Chew, Try Something New” programs are helping familiarize students with unique fruits and vegetables they might not have encountered at home.

During National School Lunch Week (NSLW), SNA is helping schools spotlight these efforts through an annual NSLW marketing campaign that supplies school nutrition professionals with tools and resources to promote their programs to students and parents. These marketing efforts are more important than ever as schools face numerous challenges under the new nutrition regulations.

“National School Lunch Week is a celebration healthy school meals, but this year, the professionals who prepare these meals are concerned about the future of the National School Lunch Program,” said School Nutrition Association (SNA) CEO Patricia Montague, CAE. “School meal programs are struggling with higher costs, inadequate funding and, in some cases, overly restrictive rules that can hinder efforts to improve school menus. Congress must provide greater support for schools as they reauthorize the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.” 

USDA estimates the law’s regulations added 10 cents to the cost of preparing every lunch and 27 cents for every breakfast, but to help schools meet the rules, Congress only provided 6 additional cents for lunch and nothing for breakfast. Meanwhile, USDA reports more than one million fewer students choose school lunch each day under the rules. 

Lost revenue and higher costs can hamper efforts to invest in scratch prepared meals using fresh, whole ingredients. SNA’s survey found nearly eight in every ten school districts have had to take steps to offset financial losses since the new standards were implemented, such as reducing staff, cutting reserve funds, canceling equipment investments and limiting menu choices. 

SNA supports strong federal nutrition standards for school meals, and is asking Congress to maintain calorie and fat limits, mandates to offer larger servings and wider variety of produce, and reasonable sodium and whole grain requirements. To address challenges, SNA requests a 35 cent increase to the federal reimbursement for school meals and flexibility on a few of the new rules (see www.SchoolNutrition.org/PositionPaperfor details). 

About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing 55,000 school nutrition professionals across the country. Founded in 1946, SNA and its members are dedicated to making healthy school meals and nutrition education available to all students.  For more information on school meals, visit  
www.SchoolNutrition.org/SchoolMeals.

 

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