Tuesday Morning - September 14, 2021

An Update on Federal and State Policy Issues from SNA

Table of Contents

COVID-19 Policy Updates

ERS Publishes Report on Hunger Among U.S. Households and Children
FNS Posts New State Guidance on COVID P-EBT
Take Action: Urge Congress to Work with USDA to Address Critical Supply Issues

Federal Policy

SNA Endorses the Build Back Better Act
Schools Preventing Hunger in At-Risk Kids Act
FNS Publishes Guidance on Nutrition and Ingredients for USDA Foods

State Snapshots

Arkansas Launches New Platform to Connect Farmers to School Meal Programs
California Appropriates Funds to Improve School Kitchen Infrastructure

Mark Your Calendars

Upcoming SNA Webinars
Congressional Management Foundation
Team Nutrition
Louisiana Fit Kids

Mystery Chat Corner

COVID-19 Policy Updates

ERS Publishes Report on Hunger Among U.S. Households and Children

This month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Economic Research Service (ERS) released its report on the levels of food insecurity in 2020, driven by COVID-19, especially among households with children and minorities. In the report, USDA indicates that recent investments in safety net programs like the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) have helped mitigate hunger among children during the pandemic. This report also noted that students who typically missed out on school meals during an average year could now access healthy meals through the child nutrition waivers that USDA has issued in response to COVID-19, which allow families to access free meals through alternative methods such as "grab and go" and school meal pickup sites. Read ERS's full report.

FNS Posts New State Guidance on COVID P-EBT

On September 9, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published updated state guidance on Coronavirus Pandemic EBT (P-EBT). P-EBT provides eligible school children with temporary emergency nutrition benefits for purchasing food. This guidance includes a P-EBT Policy Memo for the 2021-22 School Year and a State Plan to assist State Agencies administering this program.

Take Action: Urge Congress to Work with USDA to Address Critical Supply Issues

SNA sent its letter of recommendations to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack on current supply chain disruptions and how USDA can ease pressure on school nutrition programs struggling with procurement issues. SNA continues to monitor supply chain disruptions and their impact on school meal programs. Take Action Now! Share SNA's letter with your Member of Congress and urge them to work with USDA on the latest supply chain issues affecting school meal programs.

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covid19-image

The incredible school nutrition team at Everett High School in Washington state is ready to serve up fresh fruits and vegetables to students.

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Federal Policy

SNA Endorses the Build Back Better Act

On September 9, the House Education and Labor Committee met virtually to markup the Build Back Better Act as part of the 2022 Fiscal Year (FY) Budget Reconciliation for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). SNA issued a press release expressing support for the bill. During the Committee markup, Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) stated his continued support and importance of expanding school meal programs to all students. Provisions in this Act currently include:

  • Expansion of CEP by lowering the ISP threshold from 40 percent to 25 percent, increasing the multiplier to 2.5 and giving states the option to implement CEP statewide. These provisions continue through SY2029-30.
  • Medicaid direct certification through SY2030-31
  • Extension of Summer EBT nationwide through September 30, 2029
  • $500 million for school kitchen equipment grants
  • $634 million for a Healthy School Meal Incentives demonstration project

Watch the full committee markup.

Schools Preventing Hunger in At-Risk Kids Act

On September 3, Representatives Susan Wild (D-PA), Don Bacon (R-NE), David Trone (D-MD) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced HR 5177, the Schools Preventing Hunger in At-Risk Kids Act, or SPARK Act. This bipartisan bill would expand access to free school meals programs for approximately 400,000 children living with grandparents or in other arrangements known as kinship care. Read Rep. Wild's full press release.

FNS Publishes Guidance on Nutrition and Ingredients for USDA Foods

On September 8, USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) published new technical assistance and guidance on “Nutrition, Allergen and Ingredient Information for USDA Foods in Schools." USDA has implemented a new reporting requirement that provides vendors direct delivery of certain USDA Foods and products to schools. As a result of this initiative, school districts can access all the nutrition, allergen and ingredient information for USDA Foods online.

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State Snapshots

Arkansas Launches New Platform to Connect Farmers to School Meal Programs

On September 7, Arkansas' Department of Agriculture announced its partnership with Arkansas Grown to launch a new multi-platform website to help connect schools and districts with local food branding programs that is entirely free for schools, producers and farmers. Through this website, schools can obtain contact information on local producers in their area; in turn, farmers may contact schools looking to purchase foods locally or start a long-term program. This website also features interactive maps of school gardens, local procurement activities, farms and current, active producers across the state. This new tool also enables schools and farms to create personalized profiles and customizable listings to include information on new products, prices and availability.

California Appropriates Funds to Improve School Kitchen Infrastructure

AB 167 or SB 167 allocates $150 million from the General Fund under California's Department of Education to local educational agencies and schools to improve kitchen infrastructure to increase student access to fresh, nutritious meals and provide foodservice staff with training on promoting healthy school foods.

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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.

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.

Congressional Management Foundation

Using Research to Connect the Dots Between You and Your Lawmaker 
3 p.m. EST Wednesday, December 1, 2021
Despite the narrative presented by Hollywood screenwriters and the mainstream media, lawmakers are human, too. Before being elected, these politicians have careers, attend school, volunteer and achieve college degrees. This presentation will explore some strategies for using research to help connect the dots between the issues you're advocating for and those on your member's current agenda.

Team Nutrition

CACFP Halftime: Thirty on Thursdays "Serving Snacks in the CACFP”  
3 p.m. EST Wednesday, December 1, 2021
The Food and Nutrition Service's (FNS) Team Nutrition presents "Serving Snacks in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)." This webinar will demonstrate to CACFP operators how to plan and prepare snacks for children and adults in their care. Attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions to the presenters and check their knowledge through interactive polling questions.

Louisiana Fit Kids

Understanding Childhood Obesity 
1:30 p.m. CT Tuesday, September 14, 2021
This webinar is part of a series by the Louisiana Department of Education and Pennington Biomedical Research Center as part of a USDA initiative to understand school nutrition and childhood obesity. The goal of this webinar is to help child nutrition personnel, teachers, school administrators, healthcare workers and administrators, social workers, researchers and other interested individuals understand childhood obesity, the most common chronic disease of childhood.

Mystery Chat Corner

On September 14, 1814, which famous poet wrote the "Defence of Fort M'Henry," later known as "The Star-Spangled Banner," the U.S. National Anthem, during the bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Md.?

A: Francis Scott Key

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servicecenter@schoolnutrition.org  

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