Tuesday Morning - July 5, 2022

1 big thing—SNA members attend live, virtual town hall meeting with USDA Secretary Vilsack

sna president beth wallace and usda secretary tom vilsack

What’s new: SNA members attended a live, virtual town hall meeting with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Thursday, June 3.
SNA members can watch the recording here. 

Why it matters: The Town Hall comes after extraordinary advocacy efforts from school nutrition professionals resulting in the recent passage of the Keep Kid Feds Act, a bipartisan bill providing critical support to schools facing a financial crisis as federal waivers expire on June 30. 

Go deeper: During the Town Hall, SNA President Beth Wallace, MBA, SNS, asked Secretary Vilsack several questions from SNA’s Board and Public Policy and Legislation Committee. Topics included: financial issues for school meal programs; challenges meeting strict nutrition standards, including manufacturers leaving the K-12 market; the loss of free meals for all students and how to avert a student meal debt crisis.      

💭“I think maybe the elevated understanding and appreciation for food puts us in a position that with continued advocacy we can get to the point of universal free meals.” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack 

What’s next: SNA appreciates USDA’s responsiveness to the urgent needs of school nutrition programs and looks forward to continuing to work together to address challenges in the new school year. 

2. Biden Administration announces $1 billion for school meals

USDA logo

What’s new: The Biden Administration announced that the USDA will provide nearly $1 billion in additional funding to support the purchase of America-grown foods for school meal programs. 

Go deeper: The $943 million boost from the Department is provided through USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation.

  • Funds will be distributed by State agencies to schools across the country, so they can purchase domestically-grown foods for their meal programs. 

  • This assistance builds on the $1 billion in Supply Chain Assistance funds USDA previously allocated in December 2021, which states can use this school year as well as next to provide schools with funding for commodity purchases. 

3. Upcoming school nutrition regulations: Unified Spring Agenda

A magnifying glass viewing a stack of folders.

What’s new: The Federal Government has published the Spring 2022 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions which contains several school nutrition rules estimated to be published in the near future.  

Go deeper: Notably, the agenda lists “Child Nutrition Programs: Revisions to Meal Patterns Consistent With the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” a Proposed Rule scheduled for January 2023. 

Yes, but: When the Transitional Standards Final Rule requesting comments was announced in February, school nutrition advocates submitted thousands of comments providing input on the consequences of overly stringent meal pattern requirements, especially during ongoing challenges following the pandemic. SNA’s comment letter highlighted ongoing supply chain, labor and cost challenges and stressed “the need for realistic and achievable standards moving forward.”  

 

4. Uniform grant application for non-entitlement discretionary grants

What’s new: The USDA has published a request for comment, indicating the addition of grants and forms since the associated 60-day Federal Register Notice was published on April 19, 2022.  

Go deeper: The following grants (and total burden hours for each) were added to this ICR: 

✏️Center for Food Safety Research in Child Nutrition grant, 260 

✏️Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children—Breastfeeding, 820 

✏️Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children—Special Projects, 726 

✏️SNAP Income Improvements and Verification Grant, 882 

✏️Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children—Technology grants, 6678 

✏️Institute of Child Nutrition Annual Food Safety Cooperative Agreement (SNAS Office of Food Safety), 70 

✏️Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children—WIC online shopping Technical Assistance and subgrantees, 1328 

✏️Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children—Community innovation and outreach grant and subgrantees, 3680 

✏️SNAP E&T National Partnership Grants, 882 

✏️Healthy Meals Incentives 19,951 

What’s next: Comments are due on July 28, 2022 and the should be submitted via the following website: http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain 

  

5. State legislative update

Map of US

New Jersey Assemblywoman Carol A. Murphy introduced A4435, to provide anti-stigmatization protections to public school students whose school breakfast or school lunch bill is in arrears and requires school district to communicate about this matter with parents and not students. 

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