Tuesday Morning - March 15, 2022

1 big thing: Child extension waivers not included in Omnibus bill

School Meals

What’s new: The Senate passed a  $1.5 trillion package last Thursday night that funds the federal government through September.

Why it matters: Despite valiant efforts by school nutrition advocates, the extension of pandemic child nutrition waivers was not included. SNA's press release details the devastating impact of this inaction.

Go deeper: Pandemic child nutrition waivers, which are set to expire on June 30, have kept school meal programs financially afloat by reimbursing free meals at a higher rate to account for rising costs of food, supply and labor.

  • These waivers have allowed schools to provide universal meals to children throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • When waivers expire on June 30, USDA will no longer have authority to provide the higher Summer Food Service Program reimbursement rates, allow all schools to serve free meals to all students, or extend the broad regulatory flexibility our programs have relied on throughout the pandemic.

What’s next:

  • SNA has already begun discussions with USDA officials on next steps.

  • The SNA Board will meet with USDA on charting a new course and determining what options are available for school districts across the country as we all move forward.

  • SNA will also continue its advocacy and media outreach efforts highlighting the severe impact of Congress' failure to extend these waivers.

  • Be sure to stay tuned to Tuesday Morning for updates and opportunities to get involved.

Note: The omnibus does include funding for a White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, Hunger and Health to be convened by the Department of Health and Human Services in partnership with the Executive Office of the President (EOP).

 

 

2. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack responds to SNA’s USDA Foods recommendations letter

USDA Building in Washington, DC

Earlier this year, SNA sent a letter to Secretary Vilsack urging USDA to work with GAO and Congress to closely evaluate the success of USDA’s supply chain cash payments, as well as the popular Commodity Letter of Credit (CLOC) program when considering potential models for improving the USDA Foods Program.

  • SNA also requested that USDA and Congress continue to monitor the challenges of lost entitlements due to supply chain disruptions and consider further support for meal programs as needed.

Big picture: Secretary Vilsack responded by indicating he is aware that supply chain challenges continue to cause hurdles due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Go deeper: Vilsack reiterated his commitment that USDA will continue to provide support to school districts and has instructed his team to continue to engage in conversations with SNA so he can gain a better understanding of the concerns SNA brought to his attention.

Read the response from USDA.

3. 2023 farm to school census

This shot makes me thirsty! I love how this shot turned out. I was about 10 meters above the ground with my Mavic Pro. This is a small winery in the mid-Willamette Valley outside Salem, Oregon. This i...

What’s new: On March 11, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture posted a request for comment to OMB regarding collecting and synthesizing data from a national census of SFAs.

Why it matters: The comments are intended to better understand the characteristics of SFAs participating in Farm to School and the scope and details of the activities they engage in.

Big picture: The Census will be issued to all public and private SFAs (including residential child care institutions) participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

What’s next: Comments are due by April 11, 2022.

4. State legislative update

Map of US

🔎Let’s look at the latest state updates…

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has signed into law a bill to increase public school participation in the federal Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). This measure requires CEP eligible schools to participate in the program. It also allocates funds to school districts. Rep. Marcus Riccelli sponsored this legislation.

In New Jersey, Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt has introduced a bill that would require school districts with middle schools or high schools to establish a food services advisory committee to consider menu options that reflect students' cultural, traditional and dietary preferences. This measure was referred to the Assembly Education Committee.

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