SNA Leadership Testifies on Importance of Child Nutrition Programs
March 16, 2005 - On Tuesday, March 15, 2005, the third day of the 33rd annual SNA Legislative Action Conference, School Nutrition Association (SNA) president Karen Johnson, SFNS, testified at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, on the federal child nutrition programs.
Recognizing the federal deficit is a major challenge, SNA’s leadership affirmed that our children must remain a national priority. Given the relationship between nutrition and learning and the importance of good nutrition to health, Johnson urged the Committee and Congress to continue to support the federal child nutrition programs.
Joined by SNA Vice President Ruth Jonen, SNA Public Policy and Legislative Chair Dora Rivas and Georgia State Child Nutrition Director Annette Hopgood, Johnson further emphasized SNA’s four legislative priorities for 2005:
- Budget Reconciliation: SNA urges the Congress to exempt the child nutrition programs from any budget reconciliation requirement that may be enacted.
- Elimination of the Reduced Price Meal Category: SNA recommends that Congress appropriate the funds necessary to carry out the pilot project authorized last year to eliminate the reduced price meal category.
- Simplified Summer Food Service Program: SNA recommends that Congress expand the number of states until all states are included. Last year’s Reauthorization converted the Simplified Summer Food Program Pilot, also known as the Lugar Pilots, to a permanent program, and added six states to those that were eligible to participate.
- Team Nutrition Network and Nutrition Promotion: SNA recommends that Congress appropriate 50 cents per enrolled child per year to implement these programs. The funding would support USDA’s Team Nutrition program, and state and local programs to provide nutrition education to children.
Prior to the SNA panel, Senator Elizabeth Dole (R NC) testified before the Committee, calling for $29 million to fund the five state pilot project to eliminate the reduced price category, authorized in the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004. One of the most important provisions of the new Act, the pilot program would harmonize the free meal income guideline with the WIC program’s income guideline.
Over 500 school boards have urged the Congress to make this change, as the reduced price fee is still too expensive for some low-income working households. Speaking on the value of school nutrition programs to provide healthy meals to children from families in financial need, Senator Dole stated that meals provided through the National School Lunch Program are the “best they receive all day long.”
Agriculture Committee Chair Saxby Chambliss (R GA), Ranking Member Tom Harkin (D IA) and Senator Pat Leahy (D VT) all gave statements in support of the federal child nutrition programs and healthy school meals. Chairman Chambliss reported that his wife and daughter, both schoolteachers, have often spoke of the link between nutrition and learning.
Senator Harkin commented that “if it wasn’t for the School Breakfast Program and the National School Lunch Program, I would worry about the state [our country] would be in.” Senator Harkin also commented on the value of the Fruit and Vegetable Program and SNA president Karen Johnson stated the Association’s support for this effective nutrition program, originally authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill.