Tuesday Morning - March 7, 2012


March 7, 2012

Table of Contents

40th Annual LAC Highlights

Q & A on the Final Rule, “Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs

USDA MyPlate Partners Announce "What's on My Plate?" Day

USDA Announces New Criteria for the HealthierUS School Challenge

SNA Executive Team and Regional Director State Visits for March

In Every Issue

SNA Legislative Action Center

Legislative Toolkit

40th Annual LAC Highlights

“What’s totally different about this Issue Paper—and, in my opinion, courageous on the part of SNA’s Board of Directors and Public Policy and Legislation Committee—is that it presents the issue of resources and funding in a different way than any other. Four of the five issues on this year’s Paper lower costs,” said Marshall Matz, SNA’s Washington counsel in rallying attendees of SNA’s 40th annual Legislative Action Conference (LAC) prior to their visits with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

After 40 years LAC continues to attract passionate advocates of child nutrition, from operators in school districts to industry partners to representatives from state and federal agencies. More than 900 attendees from all corners of the country—including a new high in the number (100+) of LAC first timers—gathered in Washington, D.C., this week, to advocate for school nutrition priorities.

The conference kicked off on Sunday, March 4, 2012, with insights from notable D.C. political pundit Charlie Cook, who set the stage for Capitol Hill lobbying by assessing the factors expected to influence the November elections. Noting that while many of these have factors already have changed in less than six months’ time, Cook asserted that the political picture will become significantly clearer within another six months: “People’s attitudes will start setting this summer. [They won’t] wait until the World Series to make up their minds about who they will vote for.”

Sunday’s program also included informative breakout sessions focused on USDA Foods, marketing and public relations, HealthierUS School Challenge challenges and achievement, increasing the reach of breakfast and section meetings for state agencies and industry. A presentation honoring a lifetime commitment to child nutrition of SNA Past President Dr. Josephine Martin (see the press release here), and a review of the particulars of the Issue Paper rounded the afternoon’s agenda.

On Monday, attention turned to the regulatory side of Washington business. Staff from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service presented an overview of the final meal pattern rule, gamely fielding numerous questions from operators and industry about both the rationale for certain program changes and the need for clarification on others. Note: SNA members can visit its online Meal Pattern Resource Center for background and regular updates.

Dr. Janey Thornton, SNS, Deputy Under Secretary, Food Nutrition and Consumer Services, praised school nutrition professionals for their ongoing commitment to children. She also noted that many school districts are already meeting the new nutrition standards and pledged USDA’s help in sharing these districts’ best practices. In addition, Cindy Long, Director, Child Nutrition Division, USDA, shared details about the progress the federal agency has made toward the provisions of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

To help LAC attendees advocate for the specific positions identified in the 2012 Legislative Issue Paper, a panel of operators and industry offered detailed case studies illustrating the financial impact of unpaid meal charges and the inequitable burden of collecting income data to determine free/reduced-price eligibility, as well as the argument for USDA Foods to support school breakfast.

This very exciting conference ended Wednesday morning with former USDA Secretaries John Block and Dan Glickman and former Deputy Secretary Charles Conner. They highlighted the importance of creating partnerships with farm groups and health organizations to ensure a strong, cohesive message gets to Congress on the importance of healthful school meals. The Honorable Dan Glickman also stressed the importance of getting to know your member of Congress and to let them know you are paying attention to their decisions. The Closing General Session was moderated by Sara Wyant of Agri-Pulse.

SNA’s 2012 Legislative Issue Paper can be found here.

Q & A on the Final Rule, “Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs

USDA Child Nutrition Division Director Cindy Long has issued a memo of questions and answers on the final meal pattern rule to update the school meals offered under the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, as required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Guidance, which will be updated periodically, addresses the final rule overall, and includes questions on various aspects of the new meal requirements.

To read the full memo, visit

USDA MyPlate Partners Announce "What's on My Plate?" Day

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that USDA and other partners are teaming up to deem March 8th as "What's on My Plate?" Day, to heighten awareness of choosing nutritious foods to create healthy meals. The effort is supported by nearly 6,000 of USDA's MyPlate Community and National Strategic Partners who are committed to promoting a diet that reflects the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and highlights the message behind the new MyPlate food icon.

The goal of "What's on My Plate?" Day is to create a nationwide awareness about food choices as part of national Nutrition Month activities. By leveraging the strengths of social networks, such as blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, to promote MyPlate and its related messages and resources like the new SuperTracker and the website, these resources provide consumers with the know-how to build healthier meals. Partners and their constituents are encouraging Americans to take action on the quarterly message, "Enjoy your food, but eat less," and share their stories and photographs of personal successes.

As part of this effort, USDA urges consumers to put MyPlate into action by taking a photo of their healthful plates to share on Twitter with the hash-tag #MyPlate.

Managed by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), the Nutrition Communicators Network provides an opportunity for different communities and organizations to join together to promote the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

For a calendar of upcoming messages, click on ‘Partners’ at

USDA Announces New Criteria for the HealthierUS School Challenge

USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) is announcing new criteria for the HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC). These new criteria reflect the recent changes to the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program meal pattern requirements. The program will continue to recognize schools that go above and beyond Federal requirements for school meals.

The implementation of these new criteria will coincide with the implementation of the new meal pattern. All new applications submitted on or after July 1, 2012, will be considered using the new criteria. Schools will continue to be recognized at four award levels: Gold Award of Distinction, Gold, Silver or Bronze level.

FNS plans to release a revised HUSSC application form, technical assistance materials and training tools in Spring/Summer 2012. Major changes to the criteria include:

Breakfast Criteria:

  • Under the 2012 criteria, schools must participate in the SBP and, for upper award levels, meet Average Daily Participation (ADP) criteria for breakfast.
  • Schools must meet criteria relating to fruits and/or vegetables, whole grains and lowfat and fat-free milk at breakfast.

“Other Criteria for Excellence” Category:

  • Schools may meet criteria in this category by selecting from 20 options relating to program outreach, physical activity, nutrition education, and school and community involvement in wellness efforts. The number of options a school must accomplish varies by award level.

Lunch Criteria:

  • The 2012 HUSSC criteria are updated to reflect NSLP meal pattern requirements, while continuing to encourage schools to offer a variety of vegetables, fresh fruit and whole grain-rich grains.
  • ADP Calculation Method
  • The ADP criteria for NSLP and SBP is based on attendance rather than enrollment.
  • The 2012 HUSSC criteria also include modifications to nutrition education requirements for elementary and middle schools and updates Local Wellness Policy criteria to be consistent with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.

To learn more, visit

For more information relating to the new meal pattern, visit

SNA Executive Team and Regional Director State Visits for March

March 7-8 Finance Committee Meeting, National Harbor, MD
March 8-10 NASSP Convention & Exposition, Tampa, FL
March 9-10 Oregon State Conference, Salem, OR
March 9-11 Virginia State Conference, Virginia Beach, VA
March 15-16 New Jersey State Conference, East Brunswick, NJ
March 22-24 NAESP Annual Convention & Exposition, Seattle, WA
March 23-25 West Virginia State Conference, Roanoke, WV
March 27-29 NFSMI Major City Training Symposium, Oxford, MS
March 30-31 Alabama State Conference, Birmingham, AL


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