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Tuesday Morning - December 16, 2008

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December 16, 2008

Table of Contents

Report: More Children Eating Healthy School Meals During Economic Downturn

Register Now for LAC 2009!

SNA to Release 2009 Issue Paper in Late January

SNA Endorses Nominees for USDA Political Positions

IOM Committee Set to Release Phase I Report Tomorrow

USDA Listening Session Summaries Posted

SNAP Program Can Result in Increased School Meal Participation

USDA to Conduct Spot Melamine Tests

SNA President Presents during Action for Healthy Kids Webinar

USDA OIG Report Finds No Systemic Abuse at Meatpacking Plants

ACDA Releases Resource on Commodity Foods Processing

Study Finds Poverty Changes Children’s Brains

In Every Issue

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State and Federal Legislation

PPL Committee

Report: More Children Eating Healthy School Meals During Economic Downturn

High unemployment rates and families’ proactive efforts to save money have resulted in significantly more students eating lunch at school. According to Saved by the Lunch Bell: As Economy Sinks, School Nutrition Program Participation Rises, a report released today by the School Nutrition Association, nationwide an average of 425,000 more students are participating in free and reduced school lunch programs. More than three quarters of districts surveyed reported an increase in free school lunches provided, meaning the effects are being felt in districts across the country. Because the school-based child nutrition programs are entitlement programs, federal reimbursements will be provided to schools for each meal served; however, the amount of reimbursement provided continues to fall short of the actual costs associated with producing each school meal.

The survey of over 130 school nutrition directors from 38 states found that 79% of districts saw an increase in the number of free lunches served while nearly 65% saw an increase in the number of reduced price lunches served over the last year. Participation by students paying the full price for school lunch decreased in 48% of districts, reflecting a potential shift in the economic status of many American families. Almost 60% of survey respondents reported an overall increase in National School Lunch Program (NSLP) participation, with over 69% reporting an increase in participation in the School Breakfast Program (SBP) in spite of a slight decline in school enrollment this school year compared to last school year.

Report: More Children Eating Healthy School Meals During Economic Downturn Press Release

Saved by the Lunch Bell: As Economy Sinks, School Nutrition Program Participation Rises Full Report

Register Now for LAC 2009!

LAC 2009Registration is now open for the 2009 Legislative Action Conference. Plan to be in Washington, DC, March 1-4, 2009 for this exciting and educational conference. 2009 will be a pivotal year for the school nutrition programs. This year, Congress considers the 2009 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act while the school nutrition programs grow more popular in the face of a difficult economy. Come to LAC to help make your mark on important child nutrition legislation this year.

LAC is considered the premier legislative meeting on child nutrition issues. LAC 2009 offers many new and exciting programs, speakers, and breakout sessions, including:

  • Two dynamic breakout sessions! One session will focus on maintaining your school nutrition program’s financial integrity, while another session will discuss how to successfully lobby your state legislature.
  • An insider’s look at Washington politics and a review of the 2008 elections. Come and see how the new presidential administration could potentially shape the school nutrition programs.
  • Presentations from several speakers, including key Members of Congress, government officials, and allied organizations, discussing the upcoming Reauthorization bill and other important issues facing the school nutrition programs.
  • IOM Committee to Review the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program Meal Patterns and Standards Chair Dr. Virginia Stallings will give an update on the committee’s progress.

To register, visit the Legislative Action Conference 2009 page.

SNA to Release 2009 Issue Paper in Late January

Early each calendar year SNA releases the annual Legislative Issue Paper. The issue Paper is written by the Public Policy and Legislation Committee during its January meeting preceding the Child Nutrition Industry Conference (January 16-17, 2008.) After the Paper is written, the SNA Board of Directors will vote on it (week of January 26th.) The paper is then posted on the SNA website pending Board approval. SNA expects the Issue Paper to be posted online and available to members and the public the end of the week of January 26th. The Paper will be posted under the LAC section of the website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Child Nutrition and Policy Center at SNA: 800-877-8822 ext 172.

SNA Endorses Nominees for USDA Political Positions

The SNA Board of Directors has endorsed SNA President Katie Wilson, PhD and SNA Past President Janey Thornton, PhD as nominees for the position of Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. In letters sent to President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, SNA expressed support for these two leaders. The SNA Board of Directors will also be submitting letters in support of other candidates for positions within the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education. Keep checkingwww.schoolnutrition.org for additional information, including how you can advocate for each of these nominees.

IOM Committee Set to Release Phase I Report Tomorrow

The Committee to Review the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program Meal Patterns and Standards at the Institute of Medicine is scheduled to release their Phase 1 report tomorrow, December 17, 2008. This report will describe the approach the committee intends to use in making specific nutrient recommendations during Phase II of its study. The Committee is charged with reviewing and assessing the food and nutritional needs of school-aged children in the United States based on the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Dietary Reference Intakes. The Committee I expected to eventually develop a set of economical and practical recommendations for new meal pattern requirements and standards that reflect current nutrition science and better meet the nutritional needs of students.

USDA Listening Session Summaries Posted

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service has posted summaries of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization listening sessions. The summaries include highlights from comments presented during each of the sessions. Some of the issues raised during the listening sessions include:

  • Increase funding for the Child Nutrition Programs, including through semi-annual reimbursement rate adjustments
  • Create consistent nutrition standards
  • Develop one electronic application for all Child Nutrition Programs
  • Simplify program paperwork and reporting standards
  • Make programs more uniform across the country
  • Encourage more purchases of locally grown foods
  • Eliminate the social security number requirement from applications.
  • Provide funding for non-food assistance grants for equipment purchases.

To view the complete set of listening session comments, visit the USDA Child Nutrition Reauthorization Listening Sessions page.

SNAP Program Can Result in Increased School Meal Participation

As unemployment climbs and the economy softens, the number of families participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP – formerly the Food Stamp program) has hit record highs. Government statistics released December 5th showed unemployment rates have reached the highest level in 15 years; while a record 31.6 million Americans were receiving SNAP benefits as of September, the highest number since the 1960's. With the increased number of families on food assistance, it is now easier for families enrolled in the SNAP program to qualify for free school meals.

The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 required a phase in for school districts to directly certify families enrolled in SNAP for participation in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. As of the 2008-2009 school year, school districts of all enrollment sizes should be directly certifying families on SNAP for school meals. The direct certification process removes the need for families to fill out a separate school meal application. For additional information, please visit Related Links.

SNAP Program Can Result in Increased School Meal Participation

USDA to Conduct Spot Melamine Tests

According to an article in the Seattle Times, the U.S. Department of Agriculture last week ordered spot checks on perennial kid favorites like breaded chicken nuggets, hot dogs and sausages, packaged meatballs and pizza snacks, as well as baby food. The foods were singled out for limited, random tests because they may contain milk-based ingredients that have been linked to melamine contamination in foods from China. To read more see the article below.

After China scandal, random melamine tests in U.S. are planned, Seattle Times Dec. 12, 2008

SNA President Presents during Action for Healthy Kids Webinar

SNA President Katie Wilson, PhD, SNS recently presented on the role of school nutrition programs in local school wellness policies during an Action for Healthy Kids webinar. Over 2,000 public health professionals, educators, activists, and government officials participated in the Monday, December 8th webinar. During the webinar, Dr. Wilson discussed how school nutrition programs are meeting school wellness policy requirements and associated challenges by providing nutritious, balanced meals made with more whole grains, low-fat dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean meats. Throughout the webinar, Dr. Wilson called for additional funding to allow the school nutrition programs to continue these efforts.

The webinar can be viewed on the Action for Healthy Kids website.

Call to Leadership: Elevating School Wellness to a Higher Level

USDA OIG Report Finds No Systemic Abuse at Meatpacking Plants

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Inspector General found that abuse of cattle at meatpacking plants is not a systemic problem. The study was prompted by the February 2008 Westland / Hallmark beef recall. An undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the U.S. found that cattle being prepared for slaughter were abused by workers at the Westland / Hallmark Meat Packing Company in California. Westland / Hallmark was one of the largest companies supplying beef to the National School Lunch Program.

The report found that while Westland / Hallmark did abuse “downer”, or non-ambulatory, cattle, the problem is not widespread across the meat packing industry. The report did cite that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) should reassess how it deals with inhumane handling risks, as well as develop a risk-based methodology to determine for determining inspection resources at each establishment and an appropriate supervising structure.

USDA Audit Report: Evaluation of FSIS Management Controls Over Pre-Slaughter Activities

ACDA Releases Resource on Commodity Foods Processing

The American Commodity Distribution Association (ACDA) has released a resource that provides guidance for school nutrition directors on commodity processing. The Recipient Agency Processing Handbook details how the USDA Foods (formerly commodities) program functions. The manual also includes a model recipient agency and distributor agreement. For a copy of the handbook, please visit Related Links.

ACDA Handbook for Recipient Agencies, December 2008 

ACDA Recipient Agency - Distributor Agreement Form 

Study Finds Poverty Changes Children’s Brains

A study recently published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience found that children who live in poverty have lesions on their brains that closely resemble brain lesions in individuals who suffer strokes. Researchers compared the brains low-income and middle-income nine and ten year olds. They found that those living in poverty had lesions on their brains. The report argues that the environment effects of living in poverty cause these lesions, which then affect a child’s cognitive development, such language development and planning skills are affected. Researchers argue that environmental issues, such as malnutrition, stress and illiteracy.

Study: Poverty dramatically effects children’s brains

SNA Legislative Action Center

Legislative Toolkit

PR Toolkit

State Policy Index

State and Federal Legislation

 

State legislation can now be accessed on the Internet through Netscan. Use Username: schoolnutrition and Password: sna

Click State Legislation Instructions for steps to access state legislation through the service. Legislatures currently in session include: California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and District of Columbia.


 
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