FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner
SNA Urges White House to Listen to Struggling School Cafeteria Professionals
National Harbor, MD (May 27, 2014) – Today, as First Lady Michelle Obama invites a select group to the White House to discuss school nutrition issues, the School Nutrition Association (SNA) is urging the Administration to hear the concerns of school cafeteria professionals challenged by the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) overly prescriptive school meal regulations. SNA, which represents 55,000 school nutrition professionals working in cafeterias nationwide, is asking USDA and Congress to provide flexibility that would allow schools to prepare healthy meals that students will eat.
“The School Nutrition Association supports ensuring students receive healthy, well-balanced meals that help them succeed in the classroom, and we are proud of our members who are successfully encouraging students to make more nutritious choices.” said SNA President Leah Schmidt, SNS.
Since the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act was passed, SNA has been helping school cafeteria professionals implement the new standards, hosting hundreds of education sessions, culinary demonstrations, webinars and web pages featuring toolkits and resources detailing all aspects of the new standards.
“SNA celebrates every success, but the Administration’s own data proves that student participation in school lunch is abruptly down in 48 states despite rising school enrollment and 30 years of steady program growth,” said Schmidt.
USDA’s state level participation data shows that nearly every part of the country has experienced losses under the new standards. Released in May 2014, USDA’s national participation data confirms that nationwide, student participation has decreased by over one million students per day, even though student enrollment in schools participating in the National School Lunch Program has increased by 1.2 million students just in the last year.
“SNA does not want to gut the nutrition standards – we support many of the requirements. Our request for flexibility under the new standards does not come from industry or politics; it comes from thousands of school cafeteria professionals who have shown how these overly prescriptive regulations are hindering their effort to get students to eat healthy school meals,” said Schmidt.
More than 5,000 school nutrition professionals have written letters to Members of Congress in support of SNA’s effort to address school cafeteria challenges as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 Agriculture Appropriations effort.
“Although we are disappointed that the First Lady is only going to speak with a handful of pre-selected school nutrition directors today, the School Nutrition Association remains committed to working with Mrs. Obama, the USDA, and Congress to ensure students receive healthy, appealing school meals,” said Schmidt.
SNA’s policy requests are based on its 2014 Position Paper. School meal program directors serving on SNA’s Public Policy and Legislation Committee developed the Position Paper with input from SNA members nationwide, and the Position Paper earned unanimous approval from SNA’s Board of Directors. Nearly 900 school nutrition professionals from across the country participated in SNA’s Legislative Action Conference in March to discuss their challenges and SNA’s Position Paper with their Members of Congress.
For more information, read SNA’s fact sheet.
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. To find out more about today’s school meals, visit www.TrayTalk.org.