On Thursday, September 20, SNA participated in a roundtable with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to discuss ways the Department can improve the administration of school meal programs. Representing SNA at the meeting were SNA President Gay Anderson, SNS, President-elect Doug Davis, SNS, At-Large Director Lori Adkins, SNS and Wendy Weyer, SNS, a past Public Policy & Legislation Committee Chair. The group discussed complex and burdensome administrative and reporting requirements and the need to streamline mandates so that school nutrition professionals can focus on feeding students.
SNA has been fighting hard for the legislative and policy priorities that ensure adequate funding and reasonable regulations. Half-way through the year, 2018 school nutrition advocacy shows no signs of slowing. Here’s a quick recap of the exciting progress we’ve made, including new funding, education efforts, and program simplification.
Shortly after the release of the 2018 Position Paper, SNA held its 46th annual Legislative Action Conference, when nearly 900 school nutrition advocates converged in Washington, D.C. But even before they headed to Capitol Hill, attendees got an unexpected boost of support when Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky spoke at the Closing General Session.
SNA recently announced the launch of the Stop the Block Coalition and website, a national network of allied organizations united in working to oppose any school meal block grant proposal. SNA members have been busy sending messages to their legislators, sharing the #StoptheBlock FAQs and infographic, and continuing local education efforts on the detrimental nature of block granting school nutrition programs.
At a time when funding is hard to come by, the inclusion of our critical school nutrition programs is recognition by Congress of the important role our programs play in the lives of hungry children.
- Funding for Training and Equipment
On Friday, March 23, 2018, H.R. 1625 (115), Congress’ massive FY 2018 spending bill, was signed into law. It includes $2 million for training school food service personnel. The bill also provides $30 million in Equipment Grants.
- FY2019 Appropriations Bills
Congress is currently debating FY 2019 funding, and SNA is excited to report that the House and Senate bills contain several school nutrition priorities including $20 million for school breakfast commodities. This marks the first critical step in a multi-step legislative process.
Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Regulatory Reform Federal Register notice was posted on June 17, 2017, SNA has been collecting comments from members about how best to simplify school nutrition program regulations. Every submission was reviewed and suggestions were provided to USDA through letters submitted in Septemberand November. The final letter is due in July and your suggestions can still be submitted in this SNA form!
SNA has provided comments to USDA in response to several proposed rules, studies and notices, including; the Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains and Sodium Proposed Rule, Hiring Flexibilities Proposed Rule, and Dietary Guidelines for Americans Topics suggestions.
SNA provides regular updates on trending unpaid meal legislation in state legislatures through Quarterly State Legislation Reports and Tuesday Morning, and provides unpaid meal charge talking points to assist members in responding to questions. SNA is also offering a “Managing Unpaid Meal Charges” education session at the 2018 Annual National Conference. A panel of school nutrition directors and USDA will discuss different policies and best practices from districts across the country to help you assess what approaches may work best for your school community. Stay tuned for the release of a case study showcasing tried-and-proven, successful strategies to advocate for sensible unpaid meal policy.