On Friday, March 23, 2018, President Trump signed H.R. 1625 (115), otherwise known as Congress’ massive fiscal year 2018 spending bill. The over 2,000-page, $1.3 trillion dollar bill was introduced in the House on Wednesday night and passed on Thursday in a 256-167 vote, then went to the Senate where it was passed on Friday morning on a 65-32 vote. The bill needed to be signed into law before midnight on Friday to avoid a government shutdown.
The massive funding bill included $2 million for training school food service personnel. The funds may be accessed by a professional organization, such as SNA, to develop a training program for school nutrition personnel that focuses on school food service meal preparation and workforce development. The bill also provides $30 million for competitive grants to State agencies for sub grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools to purchase equipment with a value of at least $1,000. The grants may be used to facilitate serving healthier meals, improve food safety, and to help support the establishment, maintenance, or expansion of school breakfast. In addition, the Omnibus bill included $5 million in funding for the USDA Farm to School Grant Program, which doubles current available funding.
At a time when funding is hard to come by, the inclusion of our critical school nutrition programs is a recognition by Congress of the important role our programs play in the lives of hungry children.
The U.S Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) released its annual notice regarding the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). The memo details guidance on CEP and publication requirements, and provides information on the USDA-developed reporting template.
The memo also serves as a reminder that state agencies have a statutory June 30 election deadline for local educational agencies (LEAs) to elect the Community Elegibility Provision (CEP). By May 1 of each year, state agencies must publish lists of eligible and near-eligible LEAs and schools on their state agency websites. The memo goes on to outline the data collections and levels required to complete the notification process, as well as various deadlines for different requirements. State agencies are reminded to distribute this memorandum and attachment to program operators immediately.
The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) released its first ever report on participation data in the Afterschool Nutrition Programs, titled Afterschool Suppers: A Snapshot of Participation. The report highlights the benefits of the programs and identifies strategies to reach more low-income children. A striking statistic in the report shows that nearly 1.1 million low-income children benefited from afterschool suppers in October 2016, which was up significantly from the 200,000 children served in October 2011.
Federally funded afterschool meals participation data can be found in the report for both the entire nation and for each state. Even though the numbers have drastically gone up over the years, still only one child for every 20 low-income children who participated in school lunch in October 2016 received an afterschool supper, so there is still much room for improvement and many more children to reach.
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) Political Action Committee collected nearly $6,500 in contributions during the 2018 Legislative Action Conference. These critical funds allow SNA government affairs staff to attend fundraisers with lawmakers who have jurisdiction over nutrition issues to explain the importance of school meals programs. PAC donations are also used to contribute to Members of Congress who champion school nutrition programs. Just because LAC 2018 is over, doesn’t mean you can’t contribute the SNA PAC. Visit SNA's Political Action Committee to find out more.
U.S. Department of Agriculture published a notice and request for comment on Monday, March 19, 2018 in the Federal Register on the Farm to School Census and Comprehensive Review. The Farm to School Census and Comprehensive Review is a 3-year study that will review and describe the multiple facets of farm to school, including the USDA Farm to School Grant Program and Farm to School Census and other data sources.
The final report will comprehensively examine farm to school efforts and their progression since the passage of the 2010 Child Nutrition Reauthorization. To accomplish these objectives two data collections are planned, a Distributor Survey and a 2019 Farm to School Census. Comments on these data collections are due March 18, 2018.