Tuesday Morning - December 22, 2021

Tuesday Morning

One big thing: USDA announces federal assistance for school meals

School Girl Holding Lunch Tray

What’s new: On Friday, December 17, USDA leadership announced that $1.5 billion in supply chain assistance funds for schools will be available soon through USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). 

The details: USDA will provide 

  • $1 billion to schools for food purchases

  • $300 million to 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.

Why it matters: SNA’s recent national survey found that virtually every school meal program is struggling with shortages of menu items, supplies and packaging, as well as rising costs.

SNA President-elect Lori Adkins, SNS, joined Stacy Dean, Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services at USDA, to discuss the importance of these new funds for school meal programs struggling with the impact of widespread supply chain disruption.

  • What she’s saying: “SNA is extremely grateful for USDA’s ongoing support and regulatory waivers for school nutrition professionals as they confront supply chain challenges. These new funds will help school meal programs manage higher costs, while allowing students to continue enjoying nutritious, American-grown foods in school meals.”  Read more.

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2. Upcoming school nutrition meal pattern regulations

School Lunch Tray

What’s new: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has released the Biden administration’s Fall 2021 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions, outlining actions executive branch agencies plan to take in the coming months.

Why it matters:  This agenda notes that the Interim Final Rule on Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium is scheduled to be released in January 2022.

  • Scheduled for release in October 2022 is the USDA Proposed Rule on Child Nutrition Programs: Revisions to Meal Patterns Consistent with the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Go deeper: Click here to view a complete list of upcoming regulations.

What’s next: As schools continue to experience COVID-19 related supply chain and economic disruptions, it is even more difficult to secure foods that meet highly specialized school nutrition standards. 

  • SNA continues to advocate for flexibility on whole grain, sodium and milk regulations to ease menu planning and procurement challenges for school nutrition programs.

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3. The latest from USDA’s Food & Nutrition Service

USDA Building in Washington, DC

What’s new: The USDA FNS Southeast Region announced that Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina are three of eight states that have been selected to participate in the Direct Certification with Medicaid Demonstration Projects for SY2022-23.

Why it matters: These projects evaluate the impact of using Medicaid eligibility data to directly certify students for free and reduced-price school meals.

SNA has long advocated for increasing access to school meals through expansion of direct certification.

  • Direct certification has the potential to improve student access to school meals, reduce administrative burden for schools and families, and improve certification accuracy.

 📰 In other news….

On December 16, the USDA FNS posted a notice for public comment on its intent to ask the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to extend an ongoing information collection on the use of COVID-19 waivers.

  • What’s next: The public is invited to comment on this information collection on or before January 18, 2022.

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4. Build Back Better Act stalls in the Senate

Capitol, Washington D.C.

The Build Back Better Act, containing provisions to expand school meal access to an estimated 9 million more students, has stalled in the U.S. Senate.

Why it matters:   Research shows that students receive their healthiest meals at school, and the Build Back Better Act will build on this success by providing critical equipment funding for school meal programs hard hit by pandemic financial losses.

Big picture: Under the bill, the CEP multiplier used to determine federal reimbursements for meals served would increase from 1.6 to 2.5, eliminating financial barriers for schools eligible for CEP. In addition, the bill:

  • Expands school eligibility for CEP by lowering the Identified Student Percentage threshold from 40% to 25%.

  • Permits states to implement CEP statewide and expands Medicaid direct certification to all states, ensuring students nationwide who participate in Medicaid and are eligible for free and reduced-price meals can receive them without an application.

  • If enacted, would continue these provisions through the 2026 School Year. 

What’s next: President Biden acknowledged that negotiations would continue in 2022. 

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5. Missouri pre-files Unpaid Meals & Breakfast After the Bell bills

Illustration of a quarter as a plate with a fork and knife on either side.

What’s new: Missouri state representative Ian Mackey has pre-filed a bill to amend the Pupils and Special Services Statute.

Why it matters:  This amendment would add a new section to define specific terms regarding meals, schools and programs.

  • It would also establish guidance on how schools should manage situations in which students do not have the resources to pay for school meals. 

State Representative Mackey has also pre-filed a bill amending the current statute to add the requirement of serving breakfast in public schools and charter schools that meet certain criteria.

  • This bill establishes guidelines for implementing this legislation as well as reporting requirements.  

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6. Webinar Wednesdays returns in January

Webinar Wednesday

SNA’s Webinar Wednesdays returns in January.

🌎January 12 at 3 p.m. EST: What in the World is GDSN? Supply Chain Challenges Made Simpler with Global Synchronization Network. Join us for the next webinar in SNA’s Supply Chain series sponsored by inTeam Associates.

  • Go deeper: Learn about the Global Data Synchronization Network and how it can help you better address current supply chain shortages. Register .

🍳February 2 at 3 p.m. EST: Breakfast Trends that will Help Power Up your Program: Brought to you by Kellogg’s, this webinar features a culinary demo by Chef Matt Jost on ways to liven up your breakfast menu.

  • Go deeper: Stefanie Dove from Kellogg’s will share current menu trends from other foodservice segments to help ignite your culinary inspiration for breakfast and beyond with ideas to effectively market your program to students, parents and your school communities. Register.

Learn more .

🍾That’s a wrap on 2021! We’ll be back in January with more! 

  • Until then, visit our website to learn about the state of policies at the state level, resources and tools available to advocate for your program at all levels, and how SNA uses its PAC to support school nutrition.

🔴 SNA’s office will be closed Thursday, December 23, through Sunday, January 2. We look forward to reconnecting with our members in the new year when we reopen on Monday, January 3, 2022.

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