October 30, 2013 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent a letter to school officials yesterday regarding mandates under the interim final rule on competitive foods. The letter, distributed through Chief State School Officers, encourages school officials to begin discussing competitive foods regulations and develop plans to meet the interim standards, which become effective in the 2014-15 school year.
Last month, SNA submitted comments in response to the interim final rule, and the regulations will be a key discussion topic at the Association’s 42nd Annual Legislative Action Conference, March 2-5, 2014. LAC’s Closing General Session (March 5), will feature a panel discussion on the potential impact, next steps and how-to’s of the competitive foods rule. LAC registration opens in December.
On Friday, October 11th, USDA released a Q and A to clarify that federal funding is available to reimburse meals served in the School Breakfast Program, the National School Lunch Program, the Special Milk Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program, despite the shutdown. The Q and A states that: “USDA has determined that additional funding is currently available, and is sufficient to support program activity for several months in FY 2014.” The Q and A addresses School Breakfast, School Lunch, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program, among other questions you may have. Click here to read the memo and here for the detailed Q and A.
As the government shutdown continues, SNA encourages all of our members to reach out to their Members of Congress urging them to pass a budget and reopen the government. SNA continues to monitor the situation and is reaching out to essential USDA staff as well as State Agencies to better understand any possible impact. However, the sooner the government is reopened, the better for all. You can click here to see a letter SNA has sent to congressional leadership. Please take a few moments to click on the Action Alert here and let your Member of Congress know that a rapid resolution is necessary to ease any concerns about our school meal programs.
The U.S. government continues to be under a partial shutdown with most of the USDA staff on furlough and the USDA website remains down. As posted last week, USDA released the following memo regarding reimbursements for the school nutrition programs which states that school food authorities and other program operators would receive reimbursement for meals served prior to October 1, 2013. For meals currently being served, there is limited carryover funding available to support October meal service. SNA encourages our members to contact their State Agencies with Child Nutrition oversight for any questions regarding the limited carryover funding. SNA will continue to monitor the situation and will keep members updated as information is available.
USDA Food and Nutrition Service has released a request for information in the Federal Register. Comments are invited for their School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study on or before December 2, 2013. The School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study comes at a time of unprecedented change for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). The new requirements are intended to better align USDA meals and snacks with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and to improve participating students' food and nutrient intake. Complying with the new requirements might affect the costs of producing school lunches and breakfasts. Conducting this study at this historic juncture will provide FNS with crucial information about the effects of the new meal standards on nutritional quality and the cost of school meals. No national study has concurrently examined the cost of producing school meals, the nutritional profile of school meals and the amount of plate waste in school meals.For more details and instructions for submitting information, click here.
October 1, 2013 – USDA has released additional information addressing the temporary government shut down and the impact on Child Nutrition Programs. According to the memo, which can be found here, FY 2013 funds would continue to be available to pay reimbursement claims for all Child Nutrition Program meals served in FY 2013. This means school food authorities and other program operators will receive reimbursement for meals served prior to October 1, 2013. Limited carryover funding will be available during a lapse to support FY 2014 meal service. Once an appropriation is enacted, USDA expects additional resources will be available to reimburse October performance. Additional information on SAE accounts and how to access further information can be found in the memo. SNA will continue to update our members as information comes available. Please note that many USDA staff will not be at work due to the government shut down.
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