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Tuesday Morning - March 9, 2010

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March 9, 2010

Table of Contents

Special LAC Coverage

First Lady Offers Gratitude and Support for SNA’s Goals and Efforts

SNA President Dora Rivas Testifies Before House Education and Labor Committee

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack Headlines Series of Outstanding Speakers

 

Other News

First Lady Visits Jackson, Miss. Schools, Promotes Let’s Move Campaign

Vilsack Testifies Before House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Holds Hearing on Childhood Obesity

Herseth Sandlin Introduces Breakfast Commodities Bill

Ann Cooper Op-ed: Increase Federal School Lunch Budget

SNA Legislative Action Center

Legislative Toolkit

Special LAC Coverage

First Lady Offers Gratitude and Support for SNA’s Goals and Efforts

“For decades, we’ve been looking to you for help in achieving our nation’s most urgent priorities,” credited First Lady Michelle Obama, addressing more than 750 attendees of SNA’s Legislative Action Conference, held last week in Washington, D.C.

The First Lady acknowledged that efforts and achievements of the nation’s school nutrition professionals go largely unrecognized and unacknowledged by many. “There are not a lot of headlines about (how) school meals may be the only meals many children get all day,” she noted. “And most people don’t know how the cafeteria is one of the most important classrooms in the school.”

Mrs. Obama welcomed the partnership of SNA and its 50,000 members in joining her newly launched “Let’s Move” initiative to address childhood obesity.

In her address, the First Lady affirmed her understanding and support of many of SNA’s top priorities, including the need for adequate funding, reducing paperwork that presents obstacles to participation, improving the quality of foods served, providing equipment support and ensuring training for school nutrition professionals.

Mrs. Obama acknowledged the challenges faced by school nutrition programs, saying “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.

For additional information on the First Lady’s speech, including links to download a video of her address, please visit the link below.

First Lady Offers Gratitude and Support for SNA’s Goals and Efforts

SNA President Dora Rivas Testifies Before House Education and Labor Committee

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

"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 her testimony, Rivas called on Congress to include adequate funding for the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs and provide the Secretary of Agriculture authority to develop consistent, national nutrition standards for all foods and beverages sold during the school day.

Last Tuesday, more than 750 SNA members from across the nation visited Capitol Hill, calling on legislators to support healthy school meals in upcoming Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack Headlines Series of Outstanding Speakers

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack headlined a series of outstanding political speakers during this year’s Legislative Action Conference. In addition to Secretary Vilsack, conference attendees heard from Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Chair Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Senators Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Representative Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon, and Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Janey Thornton.

In his speech, Secretary Vilsack discussed the Obama Administration’s priorities for Child Nutrition Reauthorization. He noted that if children are not well fed, then it is difficult for them to become academically successful students. He said that USDA supports efforts expand participation in the School Breakfast Program, as well as the afterschool and summer feeding programs. He also voiced support for initiatives to grant the Secretary of Agriculture the authority to develop competitive food standards. Secretary Vilsack also encouraged all school nutrition programs to strive to meet the Healthier US Schools Challenge guidelines. Each of these issues was echoed in speeches delivered by Under Secretary Concannon and Deputy Under Secretary Thornton.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Lincoln discussed her committee’s efforts on Child Nutrition Reauthorization. Senator Lincoln noted that her committee will look for ways to increase funding for the school nutrition programs in the upcoming reauthorization bill. She stated that the nutritional quality of school meals must be improved and that school nutrition professionals need to play an important role. Senator Lincoln also applauded the school nutrition programs for their support of competitive food guidelines.

Senators Lugar, Klobuchar, and Representative Tonko each spoke about the importance of the school nutrition programs and their role in ensuring all children receive healthy, school meals each day. Senator Lugar discussed the importance of the school breakfast programs and how he fought to keep the school nutrition program intact in the 1990’s. Senator Klobuchar spoke about the need to increase funding for school meals, as well as look at the whole school environment for improvements, not just the school lunch program. Representative Tonko noted that supporting the school lunch programs is also supporting education. He discussed the universal school breakfast legislation he recently introduced in Congress.

Other News

First Lady Visits Jackson, Miss. Schools, Promotes Let’s Move Campaign

First Lady Michelle Obama visited an elementary and middle school in Jackson, Miss. last Wednesday to promote her Let’s Move Campaign. The First Lady was accompanied by Miss. Governor Haley Barbour (R), his wife, Marsha Barbour, and several local officials, including Jackson Public Schools Executive Director for Child Nutrition and SNA past president Mary Hill.

In her speech, the First Lady highlighted several creative and successful efforts underway in Mississippi to encourage healthier school meals and increased physical activity in schools. Jackson Public Schools now require teachers to eat meals with their students, in order to model good nutrition habits. She also encouraged children to join the campaign and help combat childhood obesity.

Let’s Move Mississippi – White House Video & Transcript

Vilsack Testifies Before House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies held an overview hearing on February 24, 2010. In attendance were the following; Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, Chief Economist Joseph Glauber and USDA’s Budget Officer Scott Steele. Chairwoman DeLauro opened the hearing and expressed concerns regarding the 2011 budget given the current state of the economy. She noted that school food safety under the AMS system of tracking is of concern to her. Chairwoman DeLauro announced her intentions to hold a specific hearing on food safety and trade in the spring.

Other key points that arose during this hearing included a review of current actions taken regarding establishment of equivalency with China prior to the importation of Chinese chicken products to the United States. Improvements in food safety activities, and discussion of child nutrition programs and the pending reauthorization are issues that were also discussed.

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Holds Hearing on Childhood Obesity

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) held a hearing on childhood obesity on Thursday, March 4th. Those testifying included:

  • Dr. Regina Benjamin, U.S. Surgeon General
  • Dr. Sandra Hassink, Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Obesity Leadership Workgroup
  • Dr. Joe Thompson, Director, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity
  • Rashard Mendenhall, Professional Football Player, Pittsburgh Steelers

In her testimony, Dr. Benjamin stated that as the Surgeon General, prevention and wellness are her priorities. She noted that in “The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy Nation” are multiple solutions to help combat childhood obesity. Dr. Hassink told the committee that solutions to the obesity crisis must be complex and multi-faceted. Dr. Thompson stressed that the childhood obesity crisis is due to a caloric imbalance, caused by changing diets and lack of exercise. Rashard Mendenhall discussed the NFL’s Play 60 campaign which encourages children and schools to be more physically active and make healthier food choices. Mendenhall also discussed the NFL’s involvement with the USDA and National Dairy Council on the Fuel Up to Play 60 program and the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign. SNA is also an active partner in each of those campaigns.

One of the major topics discussed during the question and answer period was national standards for the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program.

Herseth Sandlin Introduces Breakfast Commodities Bill

On Monday, February, 22, 2010, Representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-S.D.) introduced a bill that would provide commodity assistance to schools participating in the School Breakfast Program. H.R. 4638, the Healthy Start Act, would authorize the purchase of USDA commodities for the School Breakfast Program (SBP). Currently, no commodity assistance is available for SBP. If passed, the bill would add 5 cents per meal in commodities for school breakfast. The legislation supports producers and improves child nutrition and school performance. A “Dear Colleague” letter was recently sent to members of the House of Representatives, encouraging them to cosponsor this bill. SNA, along with several other organizations, supports this legislation.

Original cosponsors of the legislation are Representatives Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.), Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).
http://www.schoolnutrition.org/Blog.aspx?id=13625&blogid=622

Ann Cooper Op-ed: Increase Federal School Lunch Budget

Ann Cooper called on Congress to significantly increase funding for the school nutrition programs in an op-ed published in last Friday’s Washington Post. In the op-ed, Cooper argues that Congress needs to invest more than President Obama’s proposed $1 billion in additional funding for the school nutrition programs. She argues that Congress should provide $5.4 billion to the federal school nutrition programs to ensure that all students are offered a healthy, fresh school meal everyday.

For healthier kids, increase the federal school lunch budget – Washington Post

State and Federal Legislation (login required)
State legislation can now be accessed on the Internet through Netscan. Use Username: schoolnutrition and Password: sna

Click State Legislation Instructions for steps to access state legislation through the service. Legislatures currently in session include: California, District of Columbia, Federal, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Wisconsin


 
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