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Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner
School Nutrition Association Recognizes Professionals who Serve Healthy Meals
School Nutrition Employee Week is May 3-7, 2010
NATIONAL HARBOR, MD (April 29, 2010) - Preparing healthy school meals, teaching good nutrition habits and offering a friendly greeting are all in a day’s work for more than 250,000 child nutrition employees in the nation’s 99,000 school cafeterias and kitchens. The non-profit School Nutrition Association celebrates this professional commitment with School Nutrition Employee Week, May 3 – 7, 2010. The week offers an opportunity for parents, students, school staff and communities to thank those who provide healthy school meals to more than 31 million children each school day.
Despite working with extremely limited funds to prepare and serve each meal, school nutrition professionals are committed to providing safe, healthy and well-balanced meals. The average cost to prepare a school lunch is $2.92, but the federal reimbursement rate provided for each lunch served is only $2.68. Balancing financially self-sufficient programs under these budget constraints is just one of the many day-to-day roles of school nutrition professionals.
Employees must follow numerous federal, state and local regulations, provide nutrition education to students, receive training in sanitation and food safety and oftentimes conduct healthy catering services to their communities to help cover financial losses. They use their creativity to make the cafeteria a fun and welcoming place and perform their jobs each day because they care passionately about the children they serve.
The importance and nutritional value of school meals are well documented. For many children, school lunch is the most nutrient-rich meal of their day.
“The role of school nutrition professionals is more important this year than ever as more families rely on the federal child nutrition programs,” said SNA President Dora Rivas Rivas, Executive Director of Food and Child Nutrition Services for the Dallas Independent School District in Texas. “School nutrition professionals in communities nationwide deserve praise and appreciation for their outstanding work providing healthy, nutritious meals to children every school day and for their creativity in making school nutrition programs excel in tough economic circumstances.”
SNA’s 2009 School Nutrition Operations Report emphasizes the strides and changes being made each year by school nutrition professionals dedicated to providing high quality, nutritious school meals. In school lunchrooms nationwide, school districts are offering:
The School Nutrition Association is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. The Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals. SNA is the only association devoted exclusively to protecting and enhancing children’s health and well being through school meals and sound nutrition education.
SNA Executive Director Barbara Belmont Announces Retirement Plans
National Harbor, MD (April 27, 2010) - Barbara Belmont, Executive Director of the School Nutrition Association (SNA), has announced her plans to retire on July 31, 2011. Hired in 1993 as the executive director for both the School Nutrition Association and the School Nutrition Foundation, Ms. Belmont has been at the helm of the Association for 17 years. In 2006, Ms. Belmont also became Executive Director of the new SNA international arm, the Global Child Nutrition Foundation.
SNA represents 55,000 members involved with school nutrition programs. The Association was founded in 1946 as the American School Food Service Association, the same year President Truman signed the National School Lunch Act. Located in Denver until 1989, the Association was moved to Alexandria, Virginia, by the Board of Directors to enhance advocacy efforts on behalf of good nutrition and education for all school children. The name of the Association was changed to SNA in 2004.
“We have made great strides under her guidance and visionary leadership. The Board of Directors will be asked to approve a continuity plan at their July meeting to begin a 12-month transition,” stated SNA President Dora Rivas. “We respect Barbara’s wishes and appreciate her commitment and dedication to assist SNA in preparing for its continued success. We wish her well in future ventures."
When asked what she felt were the greatest achievements during the past 17 years, Ms. Belmont responded that the rebranding and new name for the Association probably has had the greatest impact. In addition, the sound financial standing of SNA, the development of a strong leadership training program with a Future Leaders element, the creation of the Global Child Nutrition Foundation, the implementation of a strategic issues management system, and the development of a state association staff executive network and annual meeting are excellent success stories.
Ms. Belmont began her association career in 1978 with the National Association of Home Builders where she worked until 1993. She was initially hired as an associate editor and was staff vice president of builder and association services in 1991 when she took over the marketing of SMART HOUSE, a for-profit subsidiary of the Home Builders.
Winner of multiple professional awards, Ms. Belmont became a Certified Association Executive (CAE) in 1986 and was named an American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Fellow in 1999. She was named Association Executive of the Year in 2002 by Association Trends. She served on the American Society of Association Executives Board of Directors from 1996 to 2005 and as chair of the Board 2003-4.
Ms. Belmont is a past president of the Latin American Network of School Nutrition and has been serving on the Friends of the World Food Program Board of Directors since 1998. She currently resides in Alexandria, Virginia.
SNA Commends Military Leaders for Supporting Increased Funds for School Meals
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (April 20, 2010) – School Nutrition Association (SNA) commends a group of decorated military leaders, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for their support for increased funding for school nutrition programs.
The announcement came as Mission: Readiness (pdf), an organization of retired senior military leaders, released a report highlighting the growing number of young adults who are too overweight to join the military. As a critical first step toward addressing this problem, Mission: Readiness called on Congress to pass Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation, including the Obama Administration’s recommendation of a $1 billion per year increase for child nutrition programs.
Mission: Readiness also called for the adoption of the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations to update nutrition standards for foods sold in school. SNA supports these recommendations and has been a vocal advocate of the need for comprehensive nutrition guidelines for all foods sold in school, including “competitive” foods offered in vending machines, school stores and a la carte lines.
School meals already meet federal nutrition standards to limit fat and saturated fat and provide critical vitamins, nutrients and proteins in age-appropriate portion sizes. And although federal nutrition standards do not exist for “competitive” foods, many school districts nationwide have taken significant steps to ensure they are healthy options as well.
SNA’s 2009 School Nutrition Operations Report found that nationwide, nearly every school district offers students fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and salad bars or pre-packaged salads, and nearly all school districts prepare at least some of their bakery items, entrees or side dishes from scratch.
However, school nutrition programs operate on extremely limited budgets. As schools work to offer students an even greater variety of healthy foods, they need additional funds not only to pay for the food, but also additional refrigeration capacity, steamers, labor and other expenses.
Congress must also support nutrition education to help teach students why they should chose these healthy options when they are served in school and at home. SNA’s legislative priorities for reauthorization (pdf) and partnership with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign call for the development of nutrition education curriculum, physical activity and a coordinated approach to school health.
“Schools have already made tremendous strides in offering children healthy food options, but it will take the support of the entire community from parents, to our military leaders to Members of Congress, voting to fund these critical efforts, to turn around the childhood obesity crisis,” said SNA President Dora Rivas Rivas, Executive Director of Food and Child Nutrition Services for the Dallas Independent School District in Texas.
SNA is a national, non-profit professional organization representing more than 53,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country. The Association and its members are dedicated to feeding children safe and nutritious meals. Founded in 1946, SNA is the only association devoted exclusively to protecting and enhancing children’s health and well being through school meals and sound nutrition education.
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