Tuesday Morning - August 20, 2019

An Update on Federal and State Policy Issues
from SNA

Table of Contents

Federal Policy

USDA Lawsuits
FNS Announces the National Average Value of Donated Foods by the Food Distribution Program
USDA Releases Evaluation of the School Meal Data Collection Process
Bill Requiring Consideration of Assets for Broad-based Categorical Eligibility
Improving Training for School Food Service Workers Act of 2019
Wise Investment in Children Act of 2019

State Snapshots

Washington School District Continues to Emphasize Nutrition Over Recent Budget Cuts

Mark Your Calendars

School Nutrition Association Webinars
NFSN: School Garden Support Organization Network Crowdfunding Webinar
Host a Legislator: Cafeteria Site Visit

Mystery Chat Corner

Federal Policy

USDA Lawsuits

Since April, SNA has been closely watching the lawsuits filed against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and its top officials pending in federal courts in New York and Maryland. Both lawsuits claim that the 2018 Final Rule on Sodium and Whole Grains requirements was issued by USDA in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. In addition, both lawsuits claim that there was not adequate opportunity for public comment on the final version of the Rule and that the Rule is inconsistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. On August 7, more pre-trial motions were filed in this case. Because the relevant facts and sequence of events leading up to the adoption of the 2018 Final Rule are well-known and not disputed, these pre-trial motions in both cases could lead to an early decision on the merits of the cases sometime this fall. In the meantime, the Final Rule’s flexible sodium and whole grains guidance remains in effect. SNA will continue to monitor the lawsuits. SNA supports the flexibility granted in the Final Rule and USDA’s consideration of the considerable number of public comments leading up to the Final Rule.  

FNS Announces the National Average Value of Donated Foods by the Food Distribution Program

On August 12th, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published a notice announcing the value of donated foods, explicitly the national average value of donated foods for those states and schools participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). This notice establishes the national average value of donated food assistance or, when applicable, cash in place of donated foods to be given to states for each lunch or supper served through the NSLP and CACFP. This notice does not impose any new reporting or recording keeping provisions. The new rates for donated foods apply to SY2019-20 and are effective July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020. 

USDA Releases Evaluation of the School Meal Data Collection Process

USDA has released a final report for its Evaluation of the School Meal Data Collection Process. This study evaluates the methodologies and processes of school food authorities (SFAs) and State agencies to collect and report data using three FNS forms for various Federal school meal programs. These FNS forms include Report of School Program Operations, the SFA Verification Collection Report, and the State Agency Direct Certification Rate Data Element Report. This study also identifies potential sources of error when completing forms and goes on to provide helpful recommendations for improving the collection and reporting process.

Overall recommendations include:

  • Involve a diverse range of operators in the designing and testing of forms before implementation;
  • Ensure that software companies create data systems that schools and SFAs are aware of and fully understand all program requirements and changes;
  • Increase the promotion of toolkits and program materials associated with the certification and verification process, in particular, the Verification Toolkit;
  • Support and specify training for teachers and other non-foodservice staff that are involved in serving program meals outside of the cafeteria; and
  • Provide case-by-case flexibility to state agencies in applying the SNAP Direct Certification threshold standard.

Bill Requiring Consideration of Assets for Broad-based Categorical Eligibility

Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) introduced S.2359, which amends the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008, requiring the consideration of “nonincome assets” in a household that qualifies for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through broad-based categorical eligibility. Examples of nonincome assets include a savings account, checking account, stock, saving bond, mutual fund, pension fund, and real estate holding (excluding primary home). This bill states that a household shall not be eligible to participate in SNAP if the nonincome assets are valued at more than $2,250 or $3,500 in the case of a household that has an elderly or disabled member. This bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. 

Improving Training for School Food Service Workers Act of 2019

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Improve Training for School Food Service Workers Act of 2019 to address issues in training foodservice workers. This bill amends the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 to clarify the availability and appropriateness of training for local foodservice personnel. This bill ensures that training programs shall offer distance and in-person training but must incorporate hands-on training techniques, and this training will be provided at no cost to foodservice personnel. Training shall also be scheduled during regular paid working hours and include overtime pay if applicable. This bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. 

Wise Investment in Children Act of 2019

Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced S. 2358, to amend the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 to increase the age of eligibility for children to receive benefits under the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children (WIC). Currently, children between the ages of one and five can receive benefits under WIC. However, S.2358 would allow States to certify a participant child until he or she reaches the age of six. This bill requires any state that elects to certify a child shall also ensure that those participating receive all required health and nutrition assessments. States must also establish a system to determine the first date in which a certified child will attend kindergarten full time. This bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.  

State Snapshots

Washington School District Continues to Emphasize Nutrition Despite Recent Budget Cuts

According to the Spokesman-Review, recent revisions to the Spokane Public School’s budget in Washington state will have a significant impact on school nutrition programs. However, the Director of Child Nutrition Services for Spokane Public Schools states that he plans to maintain crucial nutrition programs despite a challenging budget. Notwithstanding recent cuts, the district will begin its implementation of the Breakfast After the Bell program that provides low-income students breakfast regardless of late attendance. Schools will also be able to maintain scratch cooking programs which features local ingredients in school meals. However, the district plans to save money by moving from a six-week meal rotation to a four-week meal rotation, but this option still leaves “a lot of choices” for students.  

Mark Your Calendars

School Nutrition Association Webinars

Check out upcoming SNA webinars, including the "Host a Legislator: Cafeteria Site Visit" webinar. If you missed a particular webinar, catch up with SNA’s on-demand webinars.

School Nutrition Association Webinars
Learn about hot topics in school nutrition and earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) with SNA’s popular professional development webinars. If you missed a particular webinar, catch up with SNA’s on-demand webinars. 

NFSN: School Garden Support Organization Network Crowdfunding Webinar

Wednesday, August 28, 2019, 3:00-4:00 PM EDT
The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) is hosting a webinar on the School Garden Support Organization Network (SGSO). The ability to raise adequate financial support tops the list of challenges of school garden programs both at individual school and SGSO levels. This webinar will explore the concept of crowdfunding through online and social media efforts and describe fundraising tactics that are focused on raising smaller amounts of money from a large number of people. This webinar is a part of the School Garden Support Organization Network. Register here

Host a Legislator: Cafeteria Site Visit
Wednesday, September 25, 2019, 2:00- 3:00 PM EDT
Looking to make a splash this school year? Be a school meal advocate and invite your legislator for a behind-the-scenes look at your school nutrition program! With the 2020 elections just around the corner, your legislators are looking for an opportunity to engage with your school and the community. Join SNA and a panel of experienced school nutrition professionals to get an exclusive look at how to host a legislator during a cafeteria site visit. This webinar will feature an update on cafeteria site visit resources, information on what to expect when conducting a visit and tips on how to earn support for your essential programs. 


Mystery Chat Corner

On this day in 1866, which President issued a formal proclamation declaring the American Civil War over?
President Andrew Johnson

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Fax (703) 824-3015

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