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Tuesday Morning - March 15, 2011

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March 15, 2011

Table of Contents

Special LAC Edition

 

Task Force Nearing Completion of School Meal Pattern Guideline Comments

New Survey Explores Americans’ Perceptions about Hunger

USDA Awards University of Michigan Grant to Help Reduce Childhood Obesity in Preschool Children

GCNF Visits Weyanoke Elementary

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SNA Legislative Action Center

Legislative Toolkit

Task Force Nearing Completion of School Meal Pattern Guideline Comments

The Task Force on Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs is currently reviewing a 5th draft of SNA’s official comments on the proposed meal pattern guidelines. This draft incorporates comments posted to the Proposed Meal Patterns Comments discussion board on the SNA website, written comments from various stakeholders, and comments provided during LAC.

Once the Task Force completes the drafting phase, the final draft will then be submitted to SNA’s Board of Directors for approval. SNA plans to post the final comments the week of March 21st. All comments on the proposed meal pattern guidelines must be submitted to USDA by Wednesday, April 13, 2011.

There is still an opportunity to contribute to SNA’s official submission. Please visit this link to provide your comments.

New Survey Explores Americans’ Perceptions about Hunger

Many Americans are unaware of how serious hunger is in their own communities, according to a national hunger survey by Hart Research Associates, conducted on behalf of Tyson Foods and the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). The survey, which is one of the largest and most comprehensive ever conducted on attitudes and perceptions of hunger, also revealed that nearly one in four Americans (24%) worries about not having enough money to put food on the table at some point in the next year. Nearly equal proportions of urban, suburban and rural Americans say they are worried about providing for their families.

While nearly two-thirds of survey respondents identified hunger as a serious national problem, many perceive hunger as less of a problem within their own local communities. Regardless of their perception of how hunger may affect their local communities, Americans see major negative impacts from hunger, especially for children. Nearly nine in 10 respondents indicated that they believe that a lack of nutritious food impacts the physical development of infants and toddlers “a great deal” or “quite a bit.” Ninety-one percent of respondents are committed to the principle that no one should go hungry in the United States. More than four in five Americans perceive hunger as a bipartisan issue, according to the survey. A large majority also feels that organizations and leaders in their local communities, as well as the federal government, have a major role in the effort to end hunger.

For more information on the survey, visit www.tysonfoods.com.

USDA Awards University of Michigan Grant to Help Reduce Childhood Obesity in Preschool Children

Roger Beachy, director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), announced that NIFA is awarding Dr. Julie Lumeng of the University of Michigan a $4.9 million grant to explore ways to reduce the childhood obesity among Head Start preschoolers in Michigan. Beachy also highlighted USDA's work in recognition of National Nutrition Month (March) and emphasized the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

“We know that if our kids are going to grow up and win the future, they have to be healthy and receive the right nutrition,” Beachy said. “NIFA supports research and the development of methods, built on sound science, to reverse the trend of rising obesity and assist children and their families adopt healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.”

With the NIFA grant, Lumeng and her team will develop a program to study the relationship between stress, children’s eating habits and obesity. The team will use two previously standardized programs to examine the potential benefits that different stress management strategies can offer children’s eating behavior. Cooperative Extension and Head Start educators who collaborate on the project will receive non-formal training and educational curricula to assist in determining the effectiveness of the program. If successful, the results will be widely disseminated to teachers around the country.

The grants are awarded through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI); which are used for studies of childhood obesity prevention support single-function research, education and extension projects; multi-function integrated research, education and extension projects; and Food and Agricultural Science Enhancement (FASE) grants. The long-term goal of this program is to reduce the prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents ages 2 to 19 years.

More information is available at: www.nifa.usda.gov.

GCNF Visits Weyanoke Elementary

School Visit GCNF Global Child Nutrition Foundation (GCNF) Delegate Bibi Giyose from South Africa and Jill Conklin, SNA 2010 Individual Industry Member of the Year, visited Weyanoke Elementary School on March 10, 2011. Before heading off to lunch, they went to the Fairfax County Food and Nutrition Services Center and met with Director Penny McConnell, to learn more about foodservice efforts there. They learned that Fairfax County is the 11th largest public school district in the nation with 232 schools spanning across 411 square miles of land. The students in this district represent more than 130 countries and 25 percent of students qualify for free or reduced price meals.

The challenges with this many students are numerous. Bibi, however, was quick to point out that “the challenges [in the United States] are so very different than the ones in South Africa – many of the workers in Africa don’t even have a high school diploma” while the foodservice workers in Fairfax County Public Schools get continuous training and must meet very specific requirements. Our challenges may be different but we all have one goal in mind -- serve healthy meals to students so they may be able to learn and thrive. “It is very important to lead by example,” Bibi added, noting the importance of educators leading healthy lifestyles as well.

This was an excellent opportunity, for Bibi in particular, to see first hand how school meal programs are run in the United States. She hopes her time spent at LAC with SNA and GCNF will help her improve school feeding programs in Africa.

(Photo: 2nd graders at Weyanoke Elementary School in Fairfax County enjoy lunchtime with special guests Bibi Giyose and Jill Conklin)


 
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