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SNA News Releases

Your Employees Serve Up Excellence. It’s Time to Say Thanks!

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School Nutrition Employee Week
May 7-11, 2012

Want to show appreciation for your dedicated school nutrition staff? Do you need ideas or resources to help you give them the recognition they deserve?

School Nutrition Employee Week (SNEW) is just around the corner. It’s time to think about how you will recognize your favorite school nutrition professionals!

SNA has a special website dedicated to recognizing these important people and their outstanding commitment to kids and school nutrition. On the site, you can:

  • Find creative SNEW celebration ideas including a sample press release and proclamation
  • Submit the names of your favorite school nutrition employees to be posted on the online appreciation wall
  • Check out the honored employees from across the country and get inspired by their stories

Reward your staff with special tokens like items from the “Serving Up Excellence” line at the Emporium

Please visit www.schoolnutrition.org/snew to find out more.

House Budget and SNAP Block Grant Proposal

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SNA wanted to circulate the proposed budget for your reference. This was released March 20, 2012. It was submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives for fiscal year 2013 and beyond, builds upon the budget that was written and passed by the House last year by the House Budget Committee. Here is the full budget proposal.

Of particular interest are the following excerpts from page 43 of the proposal which address block grants:

  • Convert the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) into a block grant tailored for each state's low-income population, indexed for inflation and eligibility beginning in 2016 - after employment has recovered. Make aid contingent on work or job training.
  • Begin devolving other low-income assistance programs to the states. State Governments can better tailor assistance programs to their specific populations, providing a more robust safety net and reducing waste in these programs.
  • With regard to federal low-income assistance programs, starting with SNAP, this budget proposes two of the reforms that led to the success of welfare reform in the late 1990s.
  • First, the budget ends the flawed incentive structure that rewards states for signing up ever-higher numbers of recipients. By capping the open-ended federal subsidy and freeing states to come up with innovative approaches to delivering aid to those who truly need it this reform encourages states to reduce rolls and help recipients find work.
  • Second, it calls for time limits and work requirements like those that proved successful at cutting welfare rolls in half and reducing poverty nationwide. These changes would be phased in gradually, however, to give states and recipients opportunity to adjust and the employment time to recover.

What is a Block Grant and Why is it Bad for Child Nutrition?
Currently, child nutrition programs are entitlement programs, meaning that the federal funding for the program is guaranteed. Block grants would eliminate that guarantee because they provide a finite amount of funding each year, with the amount going to each state determined by a formula. SNA has more details about the potential impacts of child nutrition block grants here.

Dr. Oz Show to Discuss Lean Finely Textured Beef in School Meals

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Friday, March 23 – The Dr. Oz Show has taped an upcoming episode that will discuss Lean Finely Textured Beef (LFTB or “pink slime”) in school meals. School nutrition professionals should anticipate additional parent inquiries as a result of the show, which should air in the coming week.

Although USDA has certified the safety of LFTB and the product is present in ground beef products sold in grocery stores, restaurants and other foodservice establishments, much of the media debate regarding the issue has focused on the product’s use in school meal programs. SNA members may click on the link below to access background information and talking points to assist in responding to inquiries.

LINKS

SNA member talking points
SNA’s statement to the Dr. Oz Show regarding LFTB

SNA President Helen Phillips Submits Testimony

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March 20, 2012 – Today, SNA President Helen Phillips, SNS, submitted testimony for the hearing record to the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees.  The testimony focused on the Association’s support for the $35 million requested by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service for School Meal Equipment Grants within the 2013 FY Agriculture Appropriations bill.

In her testimony, Helen noted that, “Many School Food Authorities (SFAs) throughout the nation have a significant need to replace and upgrade their equipment, particularly as we all work to implement the final rule revising school lunch and school breakfast meal standards.  Most importantly, new equipment will directly benefit the millions of children that school food service professionals serve each and every school day by enabling SFAs to provide more fruits and vegetables, and enabling SFAs to maintain, expand, and establish school breakfast programs throughout the nation.”

To read the full testimony, click here.

Letter from SNA to Senators Stabenow and Roberts

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March 16, 2012 – Earlier today, SNA Chief Executive Officer Frank DiPasquale sent a signed letter to U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) thanking them for their recent involvement in the Association’s most well-attended Legislative Action Conference to date. As Chairwomen and Ranking Member of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, the letter also asked Stabenow and Roberts for their support on two important actions.

Read the full letter here.

USDA Foods Toolkit

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March 12, 2012 -- USDA has recently updated their USDA Foods Toolkit. New additions are the USDA Foods Banner Kit to promote USDA Foods and the Food Buying Guide Calculator for Child Nutrition Programs. The USDA Foods Toolkit is a collection of valuable resources to assist school nutrition professionals with educating students, school staff and the community about the healthy and nutritious contributions that USDA Foods provide to school meal programs.

Related Links

http://www.fns.usda.gov/fdd/foods/healthy/ToolKit.htm

USDA Updates Q and A on Meal Pattern Standards

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March 8, 2012 – Earlier this month, the USDA released a revised memo addressing Questions and Answers on the Final Rule, “Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.”

This guidance addresses the final rule overall, and includes questions on general and specific aspects of the new meal requirements. USDA will revise this document periodically to issue additional Questions & Answers as they arise during the implementation of the new meal requirements.

The revised document can be found on USDA’s website, as well as on the School Nutrition Association’s Meal Pattern landing page. www.schoolnutrition.org/mealpattern

2012 LAC Attendees Charged for Change

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 March 5, 2012 – “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.

LAC12 audience

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

“The theme of this year’s Issue Paper is fairness. Economic fairness for school nutrition,” explained Matz, describing the annual guide to SNA’s legislative priorities as “a mosaic, a jigsaw, in which all the pieces, when combined together, present a picture of financial integrity.” The five positions of SNA’s 2012 Legislative Issue Paper can be found here.

LAC12 Charlie Cook

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 by 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.

LAC12 Janey Thornton

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 undersecretary, Food Nutrition and Consumer Services, praised the nation’s school nutrition professionals for their ongoing commitment to children. “I want to commend all of you here for what you do and for the compassion you show,” said Thornton, noting that many school districts are already meeting the new nutrition standards and pledging USDA’s help in sharing these districts’ best practices. “So many schools are meeting the requirements right now, with the current reimbursement,” Thornton reported. 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.

LAC12 Matz

“For all the policy wonks in Washington, God bless them, you are the ones who are living in the ‘real’ world,” observed Matz, encouraging attendees to make the most of limited time with lawmakers with concise and compelling messages. For example, he noted, “You all know there are SNA members who are on food stamps who still take money out of their own pockets to help a child meet the 40 cents for a reimbursable meal. I guarantee there is no one in Congress who knows that. No one. And you have to tell them.”

LAC 2012 concludes on Wednesday, March 7, 2012. Photos by Rick Brady



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