December 6, 2013 – US Representative Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) has introduced the Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act to ease meal pattern requirements. H.R. 3663 would eliminate calorie caps and permanently lift weekly maximums on protein and grains. (Per a previous web story, USDA recently submitted for review language that would eliminate the grain/protein maximums.)
The bill was introduced the same day SNA’s Public Policy and Legislation Committee was meeting to draft the Association’s 2014 Legislative Issue Paper, with extensive input from SNA members. The Issue Paper, which will be unveiled in January, is a key step in SNA’s three year legislative plan, which focuses on the successful reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Programs.
Over the last month, in preparation for reauthorization, SNA hosted a Congressional staff briefing on Capitol Hill regarding school meals and participated in 24 one-on-one meetings with key Hill staff and Members of Congress. During these meetings, SNA confirmed that committee leaders prefer to address school nutrition issues comprehensively as part of the reauthorization process, rather than advancing individual bills that address specific priorities.
To ensure SNA’s advocacy plan achieves the greatest possible success, the Association is focusing its engagement on advancing reauthorization and educating Members of Congress on the issues that matter most to SNA members. Members have a critical role to play in this process by participating in SNA’s Legislative Action Conference (LAC), March 2 to 5, 2014. Visit www.schoolnutrition.org/LAC to find out more.
USDA FNS has included making the flexibility for grain and protein requirements in the school meals program permanent in a rule review request sent on November 7 to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The final rule has not yet been published in the federal register. While the reviews typically take no more than 90 days, USDA does not have a target on when they expect to have it finalized by OMB. SNA is staying abreast of the status of this rule and will update members as developments arise.
On November 12, 2013 the USDA released nine memos on the summer meals programs on topics such as: Sponsors Operating in Multiple States, Mobile Feeding Options, Census Data Release, Promoting Nutrition in Summer Meals, Use of School and Census Data, Available Flexibilities, Expanding Awareness, Meal Service Requirements, and a Q and A document. Click here to access the memos. USDA worked hard to have this guidance released in a timely fashion as districts are planning summer meals now. These memos preceded a Summit on Summer Meals hosted by Share Our Strength November 13 – 14th. SNA assisted Share Our Strength throughout the planning of this summit targeted for state agencies and provided suggestions for speakers.
USDA Administrator, Audrey Rowe, recently announced a reorganization of Special Nutrition Programs into two new organizations, each headed by a Deputy Administrator, the Office of the Deputy Administrator for Child Nutrition Programs and Office of the Deputy Administrator for Supplemental Nutrition and Safety Programs. Cindy Long has been appointed as the Deputy Administrator for Child Nutrition (CN) Programs which took effect Sunday, November 17, 2013. We offer sincere congratulations on her well-deserved promotion and are eager to continue to work with Cindy in her new position!
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