Tuesday Morning - April 19, 2022

1 big thing: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2025-2030

Dietary Guidelines

What’s new: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) are requesting public comments to inform the next edition of the Dietary Guidelines

Why it matters: The Guidelines are intended to serve as a recommendation to guide Americans towards healthier food choices. In recent years rapid implementation and overly prescriptive adherence have resulted in unintended consequences on the viability of school nutrition programs, undermining the goal of the Guidelines. The Committee drafting the Guidelines should be aware of the operational and budgetary constraints of school nutrition programs which are expected to be financially independent within their school districts, earning their way via meal sales. 

Big picture: On April 14, HHS and USDA released the proposed scientific questions that will determine what scientific expertise is needed on the 2025 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and where the Committee will focus its scientific review of nutrition evidence. The proposed questions focus on diet and health outcomes across the lifespan. The complete five step process for developing the final Guidelines can be found here

What’s next: SNA will be reviewing the proposed questions and providing comments which will be shared with subscribers. Meanwhile, SNA members are encouraged to submit comments through Regulations.gov. Additional information about how these questions were developed is available at DietaryGuidelines.gov

2. USDA policy memo re: Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022

USDA Building in Washington, DC

The USDA recently released a memo providing guidance to Child Nutrition Program operators regarding Sections 740, 751, and 752 of Division A of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 which: 

  • Allows the substitution of vegetables, including starchy vegetables, for fruits without including vegetables from other subgroups in weekly menus under the School Breakfast Program (SBP) in SY2021-22 and SY2022-23 

  • Prohibits funds from being used to procure raw or processed poultry products from the People’s Republic of China in Child Nutrition Programs through September 30, 2022 

  • Provides guidance related to pricing of paid lunches for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), during school year SY2022-23 

 

3. State legislative update

Map of US

🔎Let’s look at the latest state updates…

Pennsylvania State Representative John Lawrence introduced House Bill 2397, the “Whole Milk in Pennsylvania Schools Act”. This bill would authorize the provision or sale of Pennsylvania milk in Pennsylvania schools. This measure passed the House and will now move to the Senate for consideration. 

Maine State Representative Rachel Talbot Ross introduced HP 1258 to increase obesity prevention in early care and education. This bill requires the Department of Education to revise its nutrition, physical activity, screen time and sugary drink standards and ensure they match the standards stipulated by the USDA and other Federal agencies.

  • This measure also requires reasonably scheduled meal periods and minimum meal times, in alignment with the standards set by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Contingent upon state funding, public school students would be eligible for breakfast and lunch free of charge. Students in a public school online learning programs would be eligible as well. The Department of Education will also be required to phase out artificial food dyes that cause adverse behavioral effects in children. 

Louisiana State Representative Rick Edmonds introduced legislation to amend the current statute and remove the prohibition of disbursement of state appropriated funds for school nutrition programs to any private person or for profit entity. This measure was reported favorably from the Committee on Education.

 

4. Resource roundup: SNA advocacy 101

SNA Legislative Acton Center

Did you know SNA provides resources for members interested in getting involved with advocacy efforts? Visit the SNA Legislative Action Center to gain access to webinars and quick tutorials to get you started on your advocacy journey. 

Resources include: 

  • SNA’s Position Paper and supporting fact sheets, talking points and other tools. 

  • Printable School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program one pagers to education legislators and stakeholders on the benefits of school meals. 

  • One pagers providing key information on the legislation, regulation and funding processes and the most effective ways to provide your input during each. 

  • Tips for creating your policy messages. 

  • State resources such as how to hire a state lobbyist and prepare your state legislative paper. 

  • A Cafeteria Site Visit Toolkit to assist you in inviting your legislators to see firsthand the results of your hard work in your school cafeterias. 

What’s next: Be sure to visit the SNA Action Network to see how you can participate in current nationwide advocacy efforts, a list of bills SNA is endorsing and to review the latest in school nutrition policy news. 

Questions: The SNA Government Affairs and Media Relations team is available for your policy-related questions at advocacy@schoolnutrition.org

Bottom line: Thanks for speaking up for school meals! 

5. Applications open: Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program

Cooperative

What’s new: The USDA announced it is accepting applications for the Local Food for Schools Cooperative Agreement Program (LFS), which will provide up to $200 million for states to purchase local food for school meal programs. 

Go deeper: In December 2021, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced that through the USDA Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), the Administration would provide up to $1.5 billion to states and school districts to help school meal program operators deal with supply chain disruptions. 

  • $1 billion for schools to purchase food for their meal programs 

  • $300 million for states to purchase foods to be distributed to schools 

  • $200 million for cooperative agreements to purchase local foods for schools with a focus on buying from historically underserved producers. A state-by-state breakdown of funds can be found in this table

What’s next: Apply by June 17, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. Please refer to the  LFS Request for Application (pdf) for more information. 

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