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School Nutrition Professionals Deliver Message To Congress: Don't Short-Change Our Children's School Meals

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Diane Pratt-Heavner
703-739-9300 Ext. 124
dpratt-heavner@schoolnutrition.org

School Nutrition Professionals Deliver Message To Congress: "Don't Short-Change Our Children's School Meals"

School Nutrition Association members meet with members of Congress and testify at hearing on child nutrition programs

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (March 2, 2010) – More than 750 school nutrition professionals from across the nation were on Capitol Hill today, calling on legislators to support healthy school meals in upcoming Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation.

As part of the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) 38th annual Legislative Action Conference, these professionals met with members of Congress to discuss school meal issues, including adequate funding for the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs and providing the Secretary of Agriculture authority to develop consistent, national nutrition standards for all foods and beverages served during the school day.

SNA President Dora Rivas, MS, RD, SNS, testified on behalf of the association at the House Education and Labor Committee’s hearing on child nutrition programs.

"For the 31 million children who eat school lunch each day, the upcoming reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act is much more than just another congressional debate,” says Rivas, who is also Executive Director of Child Nutrition Services for Dallas ISD (Tex.). “It means nutrition for a hungry child, fuel for a successful school day, a healthy solution for a busy parent and a chance for children to learn about balanced meals and establish lifelong positive eating habits."

In addition to increasing the federal reimbursement rate for school meals, SNA members are also urging Congress to require a consistent, national nutrition standard, based on the Dietary Guidelines and in accordance with recommendations of the Institute of Medicine, to govern the sale of all foods and beverages sold during the school day.

Throughout SNA’s conference, which featured a speech by First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday, Rivas has stressed the challenges faced by school nutrition programs working to further improve the meals they serve. “Preparing healthy, well-balanced school meals while meeting federal nutrition standards and staying within budget is a tremendous challenge for cash-strapped school districts. This week, the School Nutrition Association is calling on Congress to follow the President and First Lady’s lead and provide school nutrition programs with critical funds for healthy school meals."

First Lady Obama acknowledged the tremendous efforts of school nutrition professionals and the need to increase support for school meals programs, addressing the group yesterday, “if you asked the average person to do what you have to do every day, and that is to prepare a meal for hundreds of hungry kids with just $2.68 a child – with only $1.00 to $1.25 of that money going to the food itself – they would look at you like you were crazy.

“That's sad, but that's less than what many folks spend on a cup of coffee in the morning. So we're going to have to do everything we can to help you.”

SNA, representing 55,000 school nutrition professionals, is a proud partner of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! campaign and has committed to multiple initiatives to further improve the nutritional quality of school meals and advance nutrition education for America’s students.

A complete list of SNA priorities for Child Nutrition Reauthorization is available at: http://www.schoolnutrition.org/Blog.aspx?id=13463&blogid=622.

SNA’s Legislative Action Conference will culminate tomorrow in a morning session featuring US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and key congressional leaders charged with developing the Reauthorization legislation governing the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. Speakers include:

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
US Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.)
Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.)
Representative Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.)

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About School Nutrition Association:
The School Nutrition Association (SNA), www.schoolnutrition.org, 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. 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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