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Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner
School Nutrition Professionals Head to Capitol Hill Calling for School Meal Funding & Flexibility
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Nearly 1,000 school nutrition professionals from across the country will head to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, March 3, to urge Congress to provide greater funding and flexibility for school meal programs as part of Child Nutrition Reauthorization 2015. The initiative is part of School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) 43rd annual Legislative Action Conference (LAC), March 1-4.
SNA members support strong federal nutrition standards for school meals and have been discussing ways to address unintended negative consequences of recent regulations. Today at LAC, Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) announced the Healthy School Meals Flexibility Act which provides practical relief for struggling meal programs while preserving the goals of nutrition standards. The bill, supported by SNA, would maintain current sodium reductions and restore the 2012 requirement that at least half of grains offered with school meals be whole grain rich.
Since new regulations took effect in 2012, school meal programs have struggled to manage increased costs. USDA said the new rules would cost schools an additional $1.2 billion in food and labor expenses in Fiscal Year 2015. Meanwhile 1.4 million fewer students choose school lunch each day under the new standards, reducing revenue for schools struggling with higher costs. Click here to see SNA’s new infographic highlighting these challenges.
Tomorrow, LAC attendees will meet with their representatives to discuss SNA’s 2015 Position Paper , which urges Congress to increase federal funding for school meals and provide menu planners reasonable flexibility under the most stringent requirements.
“School nutrition professionals are committed to serving students healthy meals and have been creative and resourceful in improving menus. Without adequate funding or practical adjustments to support healthy meal planning, schools risk further financial losses and continued student participation declines,” said SNA President Julia Bauscher, SNS. “USDA data shows the cost of meeting new requirements far exceeds the funding Congress has provided. Meanwhile, many frustrated students have swapped school lunch for unhealthy alternatives, which defeats the goal of the standards and reduces revenue to invest in healthy, appealing menus. Congress must act to provide school meal programs the necessary funding and flexibility to prepare meals that will bring students back to the cafeteria.”
On Wednesday at 9:00 am, LAC attendees will hear from Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS), who will lead the Senate’s work to reauthorize the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act this year.
SNA continues to support school nutrition professionals working to meet new regulatory requirements. LAC attendees have also participated in breakout and general sessions designed to share best practices and help members strengthen school meal programs and manage regulatory challenges and costs.
About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is a national, non-profit professional organization representing 55,000 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 www.SchoolNutrition.org/SchoolMeals.