Tuesday Morning - May 19, 2020

An Update on Federal and State Policy Issues
from SNA

Table of Contents

COVID-19 Policy Updates

SNA Urges Swift Passage of The Heroes Act
SNA Advocates for Kitchen Infrastructure and Equipment During COVID-19
USDA Extends Three Nationwide Waivers for School Nutrition Programs
USDA Expands Access to Online Food Purchase Program
SNA Survey Reveals COVID-19 School Meal Trends, Financial Impacts

Federal Policy

USDA Announces Equipment Assistance Grants for SFAs
Senate HELP Committee Holds Hearing to Examine Reopening
Federal Register: School Food Purchase Study IV
School Meals Operations Study: Evaluation of the School-Based Child Nutrition Programs

State Snapshots

Louisiana Introduces Legislation to Increase School Meal Participation
New Jersey Provides Funding for Farm Purchases for School Meal Programs
New York Proposes Nutritional Labeling for School Meals
North Carolina Food Waste Reduction and Recycling Act

Mark Your Calendars

School Nutrition Association Webinars

Mystery Chat Corner

COVID-19 Policy Updates

SNA Urges Swift Passage of The Heroes Act

SNA has expressed strong support for H.R. 6800, The Heroes Act. This Act which passed the House of Representatives on Friday, includes $3 billion in emergency funding to help school meal programs cover costs associated with COVID-19 school closures. This bill is intended to provide financial relief for school meal programs by distributing funds based on a formula that takes into account the average level of reimbursement a program would receive to operate the program, and the compensation it received during the pandemic. SNA will continue to advocate for  financial relief, PPE, and other  support for school meal programs, which continue to serve needy students during COVID-19 school closures.  

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SNA Advocates for Kitchen Infrastructure and Equipment During COVID-19

On Wednesday, May 13th, SNA joined 21 allied organizations in a letter to the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees to advocate for funding for school kitchen infrastructure and equipment. School nutrition departments are dedicated to serving meals to their communities during the pandemic, which will continue to result in many additional, unformidable costs to be incurred, which may not be reimbursed by USDA. These additional costs include personal protective equipment, storage, delivery, and distribution of meals. This letter urges Congress to include $200 million in funding for school kitchen equipment grants in the next COVID-19 response bill. Read the complete letter.  

USDA Extends Three Nationwide Waivers for School Nutrition Programs 

On May 15, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the extension of three nationwide waivers:  Non-Congregate Feeding,  Parent Pickup, and  Meal Times. These waivers provide operators of child nutrition programs the flexibility and support needed to continue to feed children during the COVID-19 pandemic. All three waivers have been extended until August 31, 2020. Check out SNA’s  Summary of USDA FNS Waivers and Guidance for full details on waivers and extensions.   

USDA Expands Access to Online Food Purchase Program

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced approval of a request from New Hampshire, Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio and Wyoming to provide online purchasing of food to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) households. This approval will allow these states to expedite the implementation of online purchasing with currently authorized SNAP online retailers with a target start date to be announced at a later time. For a complete list of state where SNAP online purchasing is operational, click here.    

SNA Survey Reveals COVID-19 School Meal Trends, Financial Impacts

On Monday, May 18, SNA released Impact of COVID-19 on School Nutrition Programs - Part 2, the findings of a national survey of school meal program directors. The survey highlights expansive efforts to provide needy students safe access to school meals during COVID-19 closures, but also reveals significant concerns about the financial sustainability of school meal programs. Conducted from April 30 – May 8, the survey yielded responses from 1,894 school districts nationwide. Ninety-five percent of responding districts were engaged in emergency meal assistance, and combined, these districts reported serving more than 134 million meals in April alone. However, more than 90% of respondents either anticipate a financial loss (68%) for their programs this school year or are uncertain about financial losses (23%). Learn more and access the full results of Impact of COVID-19 on School Nutrition Programs - Part 2

covid19-imageCOVID-19 Stories From the Front Line

SNA Board Member and Tifts County School District Chief Nutrition 0fficer Vanessa Hayes is taking it to the streets to provide meals for kids in rural GA during COVID-19. 

Federal Policy

USDA Announces Equipment Assistance Grants for SFAs

This week, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) announced that it's awarding $30 million in competitive equipment assistance grants to eligible School Food Authority’s (SFAs) that participate in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). This distribution of funds was provided through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020. State agencies will award subgrants to local educational agencies and schools to purchase the equipment needed to serve healthier meals, improve food safety and help support the establishment or expansion of the School Breakfast Program (SBP). 

Senate HELP Committee Holds Hearing to Examine Reopening

On May 12th, the Senate Health, Labor, and Pensions Committee held a hearing - "COVID-19: Safely getting back to work and school." Witnesses and Committee members appeared remotely; witnesses included Dr. Fauci, a member of the White House's Coronavirus Task Force. He acknowledged the problems concerning students missing school but stated he didn't have a proper solution to address the issue, suggesting school reopenings could vary by region. Other witnesses included Dr. and Adm. Brett Giroir, an assistant health secretary who is leading the Trump administration's testing efforts, who said during the Senate hearing that it may be possible to test students going back to school by the fall. Watch the full hearing here.

Federal Register: School Food Purchase Study IV 

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has published the  notice “Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request-School Food Purchase Study IV.” This proposed collection invites the public and related agencies to provide comments regarding the data surrounding national estimates of food acquisitions for both food purchases and USDA Foods made by School Food Authorities (SFAs) that participate in school nutrition programs. All written comments must be received by July 13, 2020.   

School Meals Operations Study: Evaluation of the School-Based Child Nutrition Programs 

FNS published the notice “Agency Information Collection Activities: School Meals Operations Study: Evaluation of the School-Based Child Nutrition Programs.” This collection is a revision of a currently approved collection for the School Meals Operations (SMO) to include supplemental administrative data regarding the CN COVID-19 waivers. All written comments must be received by July 13, 2020.  

State Snapshots

Louisiana Introduces Legislation to Increase School Meal Participation

SB 294 requires the Louisiana Department of Education to implement a program to reduce food loss from school nutrition programs and increase the number of meals provided to students during school, after school, and away from school. 

New Jersey Provides Funding for Farm Purchases for School Meal Programs

S 2446 appropriates $1 million for the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to purchase agriculture food products from New Jersey farmers that are currently impacted by COVID-19 and to distribute these purchases products to school meal programs and food banks. 

New York Proposes Nutritional Labeling for School Meals

A 10384 requires an ingredients list and nutritional facts are provided to students before serving a school meal. This bill allows for the information to be posted on the school district website and requires the school district to notify parents or guardians of any changes in the meals.   

North Carolina Food Waste Reduction and Recycling Act

H 1119 requires that all food waste and recyclables, including food scraps from businesses, public municipals, and schools, are recycled or donated for human consumption to the maximum extent practicable. 

Mark Your Calendars

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.  

Taking a Fresh Look at Community Eligibility
May 19, 2020 3:00 PM ET
Community eligibility is a huge success, reducing paperwork for schools and increasing school breakfast and lunch participation. Now, more than ever, eligible schools should utilize this option in the 2020-2021 school year, to support students and their families impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. USDA has extended the deadlines and school districts will need to decide if they want to opt in for the 2020-2021 school years by August 31, 2020. 

Mystery Chat Corner

On this date (May 19th) in 1982, what Italian actress began serving a 30-day prison sentence in Italy for failing to report five million lire on her income tax return for 1970?
A: Actress Sophia Loren

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