Tuesday Morning - May 5, 2020

An Update on Federal and State Policy Issues
from SNA

Table of Contents

COVID-19 Policy Updates

SNA Advocates for Funding to Offset Losses
USDA Releases New COVID-19 School Nutrition Guidance
SN Magazine Digital Extra: Community Partnerships
USDA Announces Farmers to Families Food Box Program

Federal Policy

SNA Comments on DGA Committee

State Snapshots

USDA Approves More States for EBT Program to Feed Kids
California Introduces Bill to Provide Flexibility to Determine Base-Year Eligibility
North Carolina Proposes Funding for School Nutrition Programs During COVID-19
Massachusetts Presents Legislation Regarding Vendor Contracts for School Meal Services
Missouri Creates Amendment to Fund Agriculture Aid and Food Distribution 

Mark Your Calendars

School Nutrition Association Webinars

Mystery Chat Corner

COVID-19 Policy Updates

SNA Advocates for Funding to Offset Losses

On Monday, April 27th, SNA joined 37 allied organizations in a letter to the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees advocating for funding to help offset financial losses for school meal programs due to COVID-19 closures. The letter urges Congress to provide $2.6 billion to mitigate a portion of the estimated, significant loss that school nutrition programs have and will continue to experience. Funding must be provided to make programs financially solvent and to maintain the integrity of these essential programs as the recovery process begins, with many more children relying on school meal programs. Read the complete letter

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USDA Releases New COVID-19 School Nutrition Guidance

USDA FNS has released a new series of waivers and guidance for school meal service during COVID-19 school closures. 

  • Nationwide Waiver to Waive First Week Site Visits in the SFSP
    Waives requirements that sponsors visit each of their sites at least once during the first week of operation under the program for sites that have operated successfully in the previous year and sponsors that successfully participate in the CACFP or the NSLP. 

  • Nationwide Waiver of Food Service Management Contract Duration in the NSLP and SFSP
    Waives food service management company (FSMC) contracts duration requirements for all state agencies, SFAs and Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sponsors. FSMC contracts that my expire by or around June 30, 2020 may be extended through School Year 2020-2021.

  • Nationwide Waiver of Local School Wellness Assessments
    Waives requirement for schools unable to complete a triennial assessment of the local school wellness policies by June 30, 2020. For states electing this option, the new first triennial assessment deadline is June 30, 2021. 
  • Nationwide Waiver of Annual Review Requirements for State Agencies in the CACFP
    Waives requirement to complete CACFP monitoring onsite through September 30, 2020. State agencies electing this option are encouraged to prioritize reviews of these institutions next year.

  • Nationwide Waiver to Extend Unanticipated School Closure Operations
    Waives the October through April time limitation for implementation of SSO and SFSP during unanticipated school closures and allows State agencies that elect this option to permit SFAs to operate under unanticipated school closure requirements through June 30, 2020. The requirement for SFSP or SSO sponsors to submit written applications by June 15, 2020 is also waived. There is no Federal application deadline for summer 2020; however, State agencies must establish a deadline based on local conditions. 

  • Reporting COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Data
    Each COVID-19 school nutrition program waiver requires that State agencies and local program operators provide certain summaries and descriptions of their use. To begin collecting some of the basic required data elements, USDA FNS is asking States to report a small number of additional data elements with their routine data reporting on the FNS-10, FNS-44, or FNS-418 Forms.

SN Magazine Digital Extra: Community Partnerships

To continue to address COVID-19 topics that are relevant today—and not wait until the next print edition is mailed—School Nutrition has produced a second article in its new series of digital-exclusive COVID-19 supplements. This edition to our series, Getting Through This Together, looks at how school nutrition teams are finding supportive partnerships in all their many communities, from other school staff to local retailers to national vendors and much more. 

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USDA Announces Farmers to Families Food Box Program

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), in conjunction with the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE), published Frequently Asked Questions for non-profit organizations seeking to receive food through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. The Frequently Asked Questions are available on the AMS website at https://www.ams.usda.gov/publications/content/farmers-families-food-box-program-faqs.

Additional questions may be submitted to USDAFoodBoxDistributionProgram@usda.gov.

Background: On April 17, 2020, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). As part of this announcement Secretary Perdue also created the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. Through this program USDA will partner with regional and local distributors, whose workforce has been significantly impacted by the closure of restaurants, hotels and other food service entities, to purchase up to $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy and meat products. The program will begin with the procurement of an estimated $100 million per month in fresh fruits and vegetables, $100 million per month in a variety of dairy products and $100 million per month in meat products. Participating distributors and wholesalers will then package a pre-approved box of fresh produce, dairy and meat products for delivery to food banks, schools, community and faith-based organizations and other non-profits serving Americans in need.  

Additional information on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program is available on the AMS website at https://www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food-to-usda/farmers-to-families-food-box.   

covid19-imagejpg COVID-19 Stories From the Front Line

"Every day our school cafeteria staff serve thousands of children nutritious meals. This year, they are Laveen’s front line workers, continuing to ensure all children are fed despite school closures. Since schools closed due to COVID-19 in March, Laveen has served over 25,000 meals per week across seven school sites and 10 bus stops.” - Laveen Elementary School District (AZ)

Federal Policy

SNA Comments on DGA Committee

On April 30th., SNA submitted comments on the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) Request for Comment. In the comment letter, SNA referenced previously provided testimony sharing that school nutrition professionals provide the foundation for meals at schools, with the potential to reach 50 million students nationwide. SNA strongly supports sound, evidence-based guidelines and the guidelines must be practical and framed such that students will choose to eat nutritious meals at school that in turn will influence their choices throughout their lives. SNA also asks that the DGAC remain aware of the operational and budgetary constraints. Read the complete letter.

State Snapshots

USDA Approves More States for EBT Program to Feed Kids Last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that more states are now approved to operate Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT). This new program provides assistance to families of children who are eligible for free or reduced price meals dealing with school closures. All states that are currently approved to operate the EBT Program are listed on the USDA FNS website.

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California Introduces Bill to Provide Flexibility to Determine Base-Year Eligibility AB 3006 allows schools or districts to establish a new base year for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) for the 2020 to 2021 School Year. If permitted, schools may use the Federal NSLP application or an alternative form to collect current data on household incomes. 

North Carolina Proposes Funding for School Nutrition Programs During COVID-19  H 1038  or S 704 provides $80,000,000 to North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction for all school nutrition services being administered in response to the COVID-19. 

Massachusetts Presents Legislation Regarding Vendor Contracts for School Meal Services

  • SD 2922 provides guidance to allow school districts to honor current or existing contracts with vendors pertaining to school food services, meal transportation and other agreements during the COVID-19 outbreak.                                                                                                                                                  

  • may-5-2020 SB 2664 encourages all school committee and districts to adopt policies that promote access to healthy meals for all students, maximize federal reimbursements, and reduce unpaid meal debt. 

Missouri Creates Amendment to Fund Agriculture Aid and Food Distribution
Amendment 2008H04.09H of HB 2008 makes funds available through Missouri State agencies for the development and integration of safety requirements for agricultural production, food service, grocery and all food distribution workers. 

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.  

The Inclusion Breakthrough: A New Paradigm for Managing Diversity and Leveraging Inclusion
Wednesday, May 6, 2020 3:00 pm ET  
Diversity is a reality in our society and workplaces today. Yet, even the most well-intentioned teams can often struggle with managing all types of diversity. New facets of team building and conflict management are emerging as school nutrition programs continue to serve school meals while schools are closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. The way we manage the individual, group and cultural differences can make our teams stronger.  

Mystery Chat Corner

On this day (May 5th) in 1973, which American racehorse won the Kentucky Derby enroute to capturing the U.S. Triple Crown?
A: Secretariat

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