SNA members had some major advocacy accomplishments in 2022! Advocates beat the drum to inform our lawmakers and advance policies and funding to allow programs to do what matters most: keep kids fed. Even in a year with many competing priorities on Capitol Hill, your voices were heard and change was made!
2022 Legislative Action Conference
Nearly 700 school nutrition professionals were excited to be back in person at the nation’s capital for 2022 LAC! SNA advocates made a valiant effort to push for the extension of critical waivers and to gain traction on 2022 Position Paper asks, such as increasing reimbursements, maintaining flexibility and reducing administrative burden. Advocates also met with hundreds of offices on Capitol Hill and virtually!
Power of Grassroots
While the news in March that Congress would not extend pandemic waivers was disappointing, it sparked a remarkably effective unified grassroots campaign in defense of school nutrition programs.
By the summer, more than 260,000 individual messages had been sent to the Hill through SNA’s Action Network urging passage of the House and Senate bills to extend waivers. Forty-eight SNA State Affiliates also joined together to send a letter in support.
SNA remained constantly in touch with legislators on Capitol Hill and worked with allied organizations representing teachers, superintendents, dietitians and families to send several letters demonstrating the severe need for quick action.
As a result of these combined efforts, The Keep Kids Fed Act (KKFA) passed, providing increased lunch and breakfast reimbursements and extension of no-cost waivers and summer meal waivers.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow sent a letter to SNA advocates acknowledging the hard work that led to this victory, stating, “It certainly was not easy! But working together on behalf of kids across the country, we were able to get something meaningful done.”
In addition to legislative efforts, SNA regularly communicates with the USDA to inform and advocate for regulations that allow school nutrition programs to thrive.
In early February, USDA released the Final Rule on Transitional Standards for Milk, Whole Grains and Sodium. SNA’s comment letter highlighted ongoing supply chain, labor and cost challenges that limit some school meal programs from meeting transitional nutrition standards. SNA stressed that “any additional requirements must be both operationally and financially sustainable and acceptable to students.”
In addition to SNA’s letter and other communications, advocates submitted more than 3,400 individual comments to USDA sharing personal stories and the local impact of this Rule.
As the expiration of waivers approached, SNA members and USDA maintained open communication channels to determine ways schools could be helped. Following productive meetings with SNA committees and councils, USDA provided critical waiver extensions—first, on a state-by-state basis, and then with the passage of KKFA, nationwide. SNA also urged USDA to provide additional funds to support school nutrition programs and USDA responded, issuing nearly $2.5 billion in supply chain assistance funds and millions in equipment assistance, Team Nutrition grants, farm-to-school support and more.
In addition, SNA took action on 33 Federal Register notices by keeping members informed and providing comment letters to Federal agencies. Comment letters included recommendations and insights such as:
- Reducing reporting-related administrative burden;
- Flagging policies that may introduce barriers to school meal participation; and
- Responding to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Scientific Questions.
Bottom line: Your voice matters and was heard in 2022. Looking for ways to continue? Here’s what you can do to get the ball rolling for the next year.
- Register for SNA’s #LAC23 (March 5-7, 2023) in Washington, D.C.
- Sign up for Tuesday Morning, SNA’s weekly policy newsletter keeping you informed on the latest school nutrition legislative and regulatory news.
- Add your mobile number to your SNA Action Network profile so you can take part in time-sensitive advocacy alerts as they happen.
Thank you for making a difference!