Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner, 703-576-7526,


ARLINGTON, VA – Nearly 850 school nutrition professionals from across the country are headed to Washington, D.C. next week to urge Congress to address long-term economic, procurement and regulatory challenges for school meal programs. Participants in School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) 52nd annual Legislative Action Conference (LAC) (March 3-5) will meet with their representatives to request increased funds, preservation of the current successful school nutrition standards and access to free, healthy school meals for all students.

LAC attendees will also hear from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at 8:30 a.m. on MONDAY, MARCH 4, at the JW Marriott, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.

Media wishing to attend must contact Diane Pratt-Heavner at in advance to be registered. SNA leaders and school nutrition directors will be available for interviews throughout the conference.


Key LAC events include:


  • Education sessions to support attendees working to improve school meal programs
  • Political analysis from David Wasserman, Senior Editor and Election Analyst for The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter (1:15 p.m.)


  • Remarks from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, followed by an update on child nutrition program regulations by USDA officials (8:30 a.m.)
  • “Advocacy to Implementation: Healthy School Meals for All” panel discussion with advocates from Massachusetts, Michigan and Minnesota (10:15 a.m.)
  • Election analysis from Ann Selzer, President of Selzer & Company and Pollster for the Des Moines Register (2:15 p.m.)


  • Legislator visits


SNA’s 2024 School Nutrition Trends Survey found that virtually all (99.3%) responding school meal programs are challenged by increasing costs. With pandemic assistance ending, just 17% reported the current federal reimbursement rate is sufficient to cover the cost of producing a school lunch. Meanwhile, 90% of respondents cited staff shortages and challenges with the availability of student-accepted foods that meet current sodium limits. USDA is expected to finalize more stringent rules in April 2024.

Survey findings also highlighted the benefits of offering free meals to all students. School districts with free meal service, through state initiatives or the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), reported reduced stigma for low-income students, less unpaid meal debt and increased meal participation and operational efficiencies.

LAC participants will discuss these issues with their representatives and share SNA’s 2024 Position Paper.


About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing 50,000 school nutrition professionals across the country. Founded in 1946, SNA and its members are dedicated to making healthy school meals and nutrition education available to all students.  For more information on school meals, visit

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