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LAC Offers Insight on Legislative Influence

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LAC Offers Insight on Legislative Influence

March 15, 2005 - The School Nutrition Association (formerly ASFSA) kicked off the 33rd annual Legislative Action Conference focused on protecting vital child nutrition programs through the upcoming budget reconciliation process.

Keynote speaker Donna Brazile, former campaign manager for Gore-Lieberman 2000, addressed nearly 800 child nutrition professionals, industry representatives and allies in the first general session. Brazile offered tips on making an impact on the Hill and gave members insight on building legislative relationships. She also emphasized the importance of being an active participant in the process. Brazile explained, "If you're going to win, you have to be in the game."

The first day of LAC also featured an overview of the SNA Legislative Issue Paper and in-depth breakout sessions that prepared everyone from the first-timers to LAC veterans for trips to the Hill. Day One events included:

  • Maximizing Your Hill Visit: LAC veterens shared their experiences and gave tips on how to make sure you get your message across to members of Congress and their staff.
  • Working With the Media: Attendees brushed up on public relations skills to respond to many media challenges in the upcoming year.
  • Using the Web for Legislative Action: SNA's New Media Manager, Justin Gannon, led an one hour training session on the countless opportunities SchoolNutrition.org provides for members, state associations and individuals to strengthen their legislative action networks.
  • Lobbying 101 for Industry: Industry representatives leaned how to make the most out of LAC as an industry member.
  • First Timers Session: This session, led by the Public Policy & Legislation Committee, prepared first-timers for their first visits to Capitol Hill.
  • SNA's Legislative Issue Paper: Marshall Matz, SNA Legislative Counsel, led attendees through a step-by-step explanation of this year's top legislative issues including protecting child nutrition programs during reconciliation and addressing the need for funding for key provisions of last year's law.

On Day Two, attendees welcomed the new Secretary of the U.S Department of Agriculture Michael Johanns who was accompanied by Eric Bost, Under Secretary  for USDA's Food, Nutrition & Consumer Service, and Kate Coler, Deputy Under Secretary for USDA's Food, Nutrition & Consumer Service.

Secretary Johanns thanked the school nutrition professionals who play a crucial role in the development of our children. He also expressed his interest in building on the partnership of USDA and the School Nutrition Association to ensure that every child has a healthful meal. “In partnership,” Johanns expressed, “we can help our children lead healthier lifestyles.”

Secretary Johanns also spoke on the important part the recently release Dietary Guidelines for Americans will play as the blueprint for nutrition programs.

Other General Sessions from Day Two included:

  • Reconciliation Challenge: SNA encouraged attendees to urge Congress to exempt the child nutrition programs from any budget reconciliation requirement that may be enacted.
  • What's Happening at USDA: USDA officials discussed developments in the last year and what could be expected in the future from the Department.
  • Charge the Hill: Marshall Matz issued his annual Charge to the Hill, energizing attendees as they prepare to meet with their congressperson and be the voice of child nutrition. Attendees were urged to share their personal stories with Congress on the important role child nutrition plays in the daily lives as well as the future of every child.
  • Annual Banquet: Each year, LAC closes with a celebration of all the accomplishments made in the previous year. This year, participants also enjoyed remarks from the Honorable Henry Bonilla of Texas. 

 
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