Tuesday Morning - July 13, 2021

An Update on Federal and State Policy Issues from SNA

Table of Contents

COVID-19 Policy Updates

CDC Issues Updated COVID-19 Guidance for Schools
FNS Responds to SNA's Federal Register Comment on School Meals Operations Study

Federal Policy

Closing the Meal Gap Act of 2021
SNA Publishes Back-to-School 2021 Survey Results
FNS Published New Report on State Implementation of Direct Certification

State Snapshots

California and Maine Become First States to Officially Provide Universal School Meals at No Charge
North Carolina Introduces Appropriations Bill to Fund School Meals for All
Oregon Presents Bill to Define School Foodservice Employees as "Essential"

Mark Your Calendars

Upcoming SNA Webinars
Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)
Congressional Management Foundation Webinars

Mystery Chat Corner

COVID-19 Policy Updates

CDC Issues Updated COVID-19 Guidance for Schools

On July 9, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued the updated COVID-19 Guidance for Operating Early Care and Education/Childcare Programs. This guidance focuses on helping those administering school nutrition programs, Early Care and Education (ECE) programs, and state and local health officials to support safe in-person learning. The CDC used the latest research from the Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in K-12 Schools and Early Care and Education Programs to create this new guidance.

FNS Responds to SNA's Federal Register Comment on School Meals Operations Study

On July 7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) responded to SNA's comment on the Federal Register notice, "School Meals Operations Study: Evaluation of the COVID-19 Child Nutrition Waivers and Child Nutrition Programs," published on April 21, 2021. This notice sought input from State Agencies and School Food Authorities (SFAs) on the continued use and effectiveness of COVID-19 waivers. FNS's response acknowledges the significant impact COVID-19 has had on school nutrition operations and states that any future data collection will include web surveys for SFAs and Child Nutrition Directors to help States fulfill statutory reporting requirements. Read FNS's full response.

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The school nutrition team at Tooele City School District in Utah works together to make the summer feeding program possible for the students in their district!

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Federal Policy

Closing the Meal Gap Act of 2021

On June 24, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) along with Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Congresswoman Alma Adams (D-NC) introduced S. 2192 or H.R. 4077, the Closing the Meal Gap Act of 2021. This Act would expand and strengthen the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, raise the baseline benefit for all SNAP households by approximately 30% and require SNAP benefits to be calculated using the value of the low-cost food plan. Read Senator Gillibrand’s press release.

SNA Publishes Back-to-School 2021 Survey Results

On July 8, the School Nutrition Association (SNA) published its latest analysis of the Back-to-School 2021 Survey, highlighting critical issues for school meal programs such as pandemic supply chain disruptions, nutrition standards, staff shortages and meal participation. This survey includes responses from 1,368 school meal program directors nationwide, revealing severe financial and operational challenges for the upcoming school year and grave concerns regarding the impact of future sodium regulations.

Survey respondents noted significant benefits associated with free meal service since USDA extended essential COVID-19 waivers through School Year (SY) 2021/2022, including the option for schools to offer free meals to all students. A large majority of responses reported increases in student access to meals, meal participation rates, and equity among students, along with decreases in unpaid meal debt for families and stigma for low-income students. SNA is continuing to urge Congress to permanently offer free school meals for all students to support learning. Read SNA's full press release.

FNS Published New Report on State Implementation of Direct Certification

USDA's Food and Nutrition (FNS) released the report, "Direct Certification in the National School Lunch Program State Implementation Progress Report to Congress SY 2017-2018 and SY 2018-2019." This report assesses the effectiveness of state and local efforts to directly certify children for free school meals. This report found that 40 states met or exceeded the required 95% direct certification rate benchmark for the 2018-2019 school year. Read the final report here.

State Snapshots

California and Maine Become First States to Officially Provide Universal School Meals at No Charge

Last week, California officially became the first state to permanently adopt free school meals for all K–12 students after Governor Newsom signed SB 129 into law, a 2021–22 operating budget that fully funds school meals for all students at no cost. The Universal School Meals Program includes an increTHis ase in state meal reimbursements by $54 million in the 2021–22 fiscal year and an additional $650 million in funding beginning in 2022–23 to cover the costs of offering breakfast and lunch to all students.

The state of Maine closely followed as Governor Janet Mills signed a new two-year state budget into law, ensuring Maine students will have equal access to free, healthy school meals! SNA applauds both state’s incredible efforts to ensure all students can receive a nutritious meal regardless of ability to pay.

North Carolina Introduces Appropriations Bill to Fund School Meals for All

HB 550 directs the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to allocate sufficient funding to assist public schools in providing breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students.

Oregon Presents Bill to Define School Foodservice Employees as "Essential"

HB 2784 redefines the "essential worker" employment category to include foodservice workers employed at any public, private or charter school, thereby extending "essential worker" benefits to school nutrition and foodservice professionals.

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Mark Your Calendars

Upcoming SNA 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.

Community Eligibility: Last Chance to Lock in Free Meals for Four Years
Wednesday, August 11, 2021, 3:00 PM EST
Community Eligibility adoption season is upon us! As the September 30 adoption deadline for the 2021-22 school year approaches, community eligibility provides a unique opportunity to offer free meals to all students in high-poverty schools. The dramatic increase in need and SNAP participation driven by the pandemic will help make community eligibility financially viable for more school districts and schools. Even as many schools operate their nutrition programs under the summer waivers, adopting CEP for the 2021-22 school year will allow schools to lock in higher Identified Student Percentages for four years to serve as many meals free of charge as possible beyond the pandemic. Join us to discuss helpful tools and tips for implementing community eligibility and making it work financially for your school nutrition operations.

Get WILD with Global Flavors
Wednesday, September 29, 2021, 3:00 PM EST
Increasing meal participation is critical for all programs. One of the driving questions many operators have is how to keep their menus relevant to the new generations of students while embracing the diversity of their students. Thanks to the adventurous palates of today's parents, your students have been exposed to, and come to love, many more dishes with global flavors than previous generations. Join us for an exciting panel discussion where we will show you how you can easily incorporate international flavors in your menu while keeping your food costs down, utilizing USDA Foods and basic pantry staples you likely have on hand.

Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)

Everything You Need to Know about GS1 GDSN! Accessing Nutrient, Allergen, and Ingredients 
Thursday, August 5, 2021, 2:00 PM EST
This webinar is intended for States Agencies (SA) and school districts that serve USDA Foods as part of their current child nutrition programs. The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) plans to release a new initiative to allow States and school districts to access up-to-date, vendor-specific nutrition, allergen and other ingredient information for direct-delivered USDA Foods. The GS1 GDSN project will inform the ordering decisions of any FNS stakeholders to help manage overall meal planning to ensure it meets USDA nutrition standards. This project will also ensure stakeholders provide safe meals with food allergies and other special dietary needs for students. This webinar will help listeners learn more about this project that will become available after USDA Foods vendors are required to submit specific nutrition, allergen and ingredient information.

Congressional Management Foundation

Backstage Pass: Behind the Scenes of Congressional Decision-Making 
Wednesday, September 21, 2021, 3:00 PM EST
Many Americans believe that lawmakers are unreachable–that they don't care about what constituents think and influencing legislative outcomes is impossible and a waste of time. Yet CMF research shows that Members of Congress strongly believe that constituents are a valuable and informative resource in the decision-making process. Your "backstage pass" will dispel myths about Congress and provide practical strategies on how decisions are really made and by whom.

Mystery Chat Corner

On July 13, 1985, which famous concert was held at both Wembley Stadium in London and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, featuring an iconic performance by the band Queen and raising over $70 Million for African Famine Relief?

A: Live Aid

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servicecenter@schoolnutrition.org  

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