Articles in the Food Service category

NSBA applauds USDA action on school nutrition regulations

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is pleased with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recent decision to make permanent the temporary relief from a provision of the federal school lunch program that limited lean protein and whole grains at school meals.  However, NSBA is still urging USDA to make other regulatory changes to give school districts more flexibility in the operation of the program.

“We applaud USDA for listening to parents and school leaders who said these restrictions were unnecessary and not in the best interests of students’ health,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “The program still needs additional changes to give school districts more flexibility to provide nutritious school meals and ensure that students won’t go hungry because of unreasonable limits on the amount of food schools may serve.”

A permanent provision on whole grains and lean protein was one of four changes requested in the Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act, which was introduced in December by Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota and is endorsed by NSBA.

“The USDA’s announcement comes after a tremendous amount of pressure from parents, school administrators, and Congress,” Noem said. “What they are offering is a step in the right direction and adopts some of the provisions offered in my bill to give relief. A more permanent legislative fix and even greater flexibility is needed, however, in order to give parents and school administrators the tools they need when planning our kids’ lunch programs.”

Among the other issues Noem’s bill addresses are flexibility for school districts struggling to comply with new standards for school breakfast; items sold outside the federal school meal program such as those in vending machines, fundraisers and school stores; and federally mandated prices for unsubsidized school meals.

Lawrence Hardy|January 6th, 2014|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Food Service, Nutrition, Obesity, Wellness|Tags: , , |

NSBA commends bill to offer schools flexibility on school nutrition programs

Update: The legislation, HR 3663, was introduced on December 5.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) commends and supports new legislation that offers public schools added flexibility in meeting the mandates of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.The Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act, sponsored by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week, offers relief to school districts on some of the federal mandates that have created soaring operational costs along with other unintended consequences, such as school lunches that leave students hungry in cases where serving sizes are inadequate or students do not like the food mandated and are refusing to eat it.

“America’s school boards are wholly committed to serving inviting, nutritious meals for all students, but many schools are struggling to meet the overly prescriptive and unnecessary federal mandates and balance the prohibitive cost against other essential student needs,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “We are pleased that this legislation includes recommendations from NSBA and school boards across the country to develop a school lunch program that gives schools more flexibility to address local needs.”

NSBA’s Director of Federal Programs Lucy Gettman added, “The forward-thinking legislation Rep. Noem proposes would allow local school officials to design flexible school meal programs that meet the needs of local students and local communities to ensure that all of America’s students gain access to tasty, healthy meals at school.”

Noem said the legislation would help schools “ensure our kids get the nutrition they need to be healthy and successful throughout the day.”

“As a mother of three, I know every kid has a different activity level and different nutrition needs, so forcing schools into a one-size-fits-all school lunch program doesn’t work for our schools or our students,” said Noem. “Current school lunch standards place an unnecessary burden on school administrators, especially in some of our smaller school districts, our poorest counties and our reservations, and send many of our kids home feeling hungry.”

Joetta Sack-Min|December 2nd, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Finance, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Food Service, Nutrition, Obesity|Tags: , , , , |

NSBA secures time to assess school district impact of new regulations for food sold in schools

Following the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) release of their new Interim Final Rule on Nutrition Standards for All Foods Sold in School, the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel issued this statement:

“NSBA praises USDA’s decision to follow NSBA’s recommendation to issue an Interim Final Rule rather than a Final Rule. NSBA will carefully be reviewing the Interim Final Rule for financial and operational impact on school districts.

“America’s school boards are deeply committed to fostering a healthy and positive learning environment for children to achieve their full potential. Most school districts have already taken meaningful steps to improve the quality of foods available from vending machines, a la carte lines, and other non-National School Lunch Program sources.

“Yet, we must acknowledge the budget and labor constraints that school districts already face in light of sequestration and the ongoing fiscal crisis for our schools, communities, and states. At a time when education is acknowledged as a priority for America’s success and competitiveness, it is imperative that federal policy—including implementation of the child nutrition regulations—assures that educational systems are supported, not undermined by unfunded mandates or under-resourced requirements. School nutrition programs simply cannot be successful unless the school districts providing them have sufficient resources and local authority to administer them effectively.

“NSBA expressed concerns about the draft Rule during the public comment period and submitted a letter on April 9, 2013 to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. NSBA’s recommendations encouraged an Interim Final Rule be developed to review the financial and operational impact and unanticipated consequences of the new standards to reflect a better understanding of on-the-ground impact before a Final Rule is issued.

“NSBA will provide additional feedback to the USDA to urge that this and all other provisions of the reauthorization will not challenge America’s schools with a new funding burden at a time when there are critical budget shortfalls.”
- See more at: http://www.nsba.org/Newsroom/Press-Releases/NSBA-Secures-Time-to-Assess-Impact-of-New-Regulations-on-Local-School-Districts.html#sthash.1O3PUyPh.dpuf

Alexis Rice|June 28th, 2013|Categories: Federal Programs, Food Service, Nutrition, Wellness|Tags: , , , |

Education Talk Radio previews NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference

Kanisha Williams-Jones, Director of Leadership & Governance Services at the National School Boards Association (NSBA), was a guest today on Education Talk Radio providing a preview of NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference. Thousands of school board members, administrators, and other educators will be coming to San Diego to take part in the April 13-15 event.

Listen to the broadcast:

Listen to internet radio with EduTalk on Blog Talk Radio

The conference will feature more than 200 sessions on timely education topics, including federal legislation and funding, managing schools with tight budgets, the legal implications of recent court cases, new research and best practices in school governance, and the Common Core State Standards. A series of sessions will focus on school safety and security.

Expanded education technology programming will include site visits to the University of San Diego and Qualcomm’s Mobile Learning Center to explore its research laboratory on mobile learning; Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to examine the technology in science education and STEM; Encinitas Union School District to view its One-to-One Digital Learning Program; and the San Diego Zoo to learn about the cutting-edge learning tools used to teach at-risk students. U.S. Navy SEALs will show leadership and team building skills during another workshop.

The meeting also includes one of the largest K-12 educational expositions, with some 300 companies showcasing their innovative products and services for school districts.

General Session speakers include Academy Award winning speaker Geena Davis, who will be speaking about her work off-screen as founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Davis works with film and television creators to reduce gender stereotyping and increase the number of female characters in media targeted for children 11 and under. She will explain how media plays a key role in children’s development, and how her organization is making a difference.

Television star Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the world’s most engaging and passionate science advocates, will headline Sunday’s General Session. From PBS to NASA to Presidential Commissions, organizations have depended on Tyson’s down-to-earth approach to astrophysics. He has been a frequent guest on “The Daily Show”, “The Colbert Report”, R”eal Time with Bill Maher”, and “Jeopardy!”. Tyson hopes to reach “all the people who never knew how much they’d love learning about space and science.”

Monday’s General Session features acclaimed researcher and author Diane Ravitch, who has become one of the most passionate voices for public schools. Her most recent book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, makes the case that public education today is in peril and offers a clear prescription for improving public schools.

Learn more about the common core standards, new research on differentiated learning styles, and teaching “unteachable” children at the Focus On lecture series. Learn about new technologies for your classrooms as part of the Technology + Learning programs.

It’s not too late to register, visit the Annual Conference website for  more information.

Proposed USDA rules on snack foods will burden school districts

Every U.S. school district will be affected by new rules on school snacks proposed earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to the National School Boards Association (NSBA).

No state currently has standards that fully comply with the Department’s proposal for “competitive foods,” which include foods sold in vending machines, school stores and a la carte lines , said NSBA’s Director of Federal Programs Lucy Gettman.

The rules are part of the 2010 Child Nutrition Act reauthorization that requires the Secretary of Agriculture to issue mandatory standards for competitive foods. The proposed rule sets requirements for calories, total fat, saturated fat, transfat, sugar and vitamin or nutrient content of all foods sold outside the school meal programs, on the school campus and at any time during the school day.

Further, school districts would be burdened by new reporting and monitoring requirements, Gettman said. Maintaining receipts, nutrition labels and product specifications for competitive food service would apply throughout the campus, not just to the school food authority.  NSBA is carefully analyzing the proposal and plans to send comments to the USDA.

NSBA has had ongoing concerns about the impact of the law, known as the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, and the ensuing regulatory standards. Restrictions on competitive foods, for one, could dramatically lower revenues used to fund athletics and extracurricular activities.

“The USDA is regulating in the dark when it comes to the impact on instruction and school revenue from competitive food sales, because there is no comprehensive data on how much revenue schools raise and how it is used,” Gettman said.

The USDA, which has been criticized for its heavy-handed approach to what traditionally has been a local issue, noted in its announcement that the proposed regulations would still allow parents to send in bagged lunches of their choosing or treats for activities such as birthday parties, holidays, and other celebrations.

The proposal also would allow schools to continue “infrequent” fundraisers and bake sales, as long as they are not conducted in the cafeteria or during regular meal times. And foods sold at after school sporting events or other activities would not be subject to the requirements.

The USDA characterizes the proposed rule as a minimum standard.  Additional state or local standards may impose more stringent requirements if they are consistent with the Department’s final rule.

Joetta Sack-Min|February 12th, 2013|Categories: Budgeting, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Food Service, Nutrition, Obesity, Policy Formation|Tags: , , , |

New USDA regulations present challenges to urban districts

Some challenges confront urban school districts seeking to comply with the new, more healthy oriented regulations mandated for school meals by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

It turns out that some kids don’t like the healthier cafeteria fare—and won’t eat it. Parents complain that strict, new calorie portions are too stingy for high school students—and their children are going hungry during the day.

Finally, school food-service directors are warning that cooking healthier meals is more costly than the additional 6 cents that USDA has promised to help comply with its new mandates.

Yet school districts are finding ways to cope, a panel of school board members and school food-service experts told urban leaders attending a Saturday workshop for NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE).

The session was an Early Bird offering of NSBA’s Federal Relations Network (FRN) Annual Conference, which starts today in Washington, D.C.

Convincing students to eat the new daily portions of fruits and vegetables mandated for federally reimbursed school meals—as well as other healthier fare—requires a calculated redesign of school recipes and changes in food preparation, panelists said.

Virginia’s Hampton City Schools are working with local restaurant chefs to learn new preparation techniques and relying on student taste-testings to find recipes that will win over students, said school board member Monica Smith.

The district also is seeking to change student attitudes by educating them about nutrition, as well as revamping cafeterias with smaller serving lines and a more aesthetic, restaurant-oriented appearance that makes the school meal experience more appealing, she said.

Improving menus and cutting operational costs will require more professional development—and not just for managers and cooks, added Amy Virus, assistant food-services director for the Philadelphia Public Schools. Under new USDA regulations, school meals are not federally reimbursable if students don’t have the mandatory fruit and vegetable servings on their food trays—and the cafeteria staff has to stay atop of student choices.

“It’s a huge change for us,” she said. “For our cashiers, for our line staff … so we’ve really focused on training, talking about new meal patterns.”

The USDA is reconsidering the controversial calorie counts it imposed on school meals, but the cost issue remains a challenge to be overcome, panelists say. Some school districts are complaining the price of healthier foods is proving greater than the additional financial support provided by USDA.

A drop in participation can exacerbate the challenges created by rising costs, a phenomenon reported by some school lunch programs. But, in Hampton, Smith said, food-service personnel are looking for ways to cut costs—and have managed to increase in participation as cafeterias fine-tune their healthier fare to meet student tastes.

So healthier school meals aren’t necessarily a negative—simply a new challenge that requires new practices, panelists said. But school boards can make a big difference in whether these challenges ultimately are met.

Boards need to set the priority, put district wellness programs in place, and hold food-service personnel accountable, Smith said. But also “listen to the trained staff and give them the flexibility to do the job … let them be creative [while] we show our support.”

Del Stover|January 27th, 2013|Categories: CUBE, Food Service, FRN Conference 2013, Leadership Conference 2013, Legislative advocacy, Urban Schools|Tags: , , |

January ASBJ online now with Change Agents, Common Core backlash

The January issue of American School Board Journal is online now. This first issue of 2013 fittingly features our inaugural series on excellence in school governance: Change Agents. Each month we’ll tell the stories of reform-minded school boards that faced challenges and found solutions through strong leadership. January’s story shows how the Missoula, Mont., school board set a goal of having 100 percent of its students finish high school, and how the district responded with Graduation Matters Missoula.

The Common Core State Standards are coming — by the 2014-15 school year, more than 40 states will be introducing these math and language arts standards to their classrooms.  At least, that’s the plan.  Senior Editor Lawrence Hardy writes of the pushback the standards are receiving from both ends of the political spectrum in “The Backlash Against Common Core.”

Also in the new issue: an essay by education writer and commentator Alfie Kohn on the perils of top-down reform. And another article shows how last summer’s drought may be affecting school food service prices.

Kathleen Vail|January 3rd, 2013|Categories: 21st Century Skills, American School Board Journal, Board governance, Curriculum, Food Service, Governance, National Standards, Nutrition, School Reform, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , , , , |

USDA school nutrition regs add major costs for food services

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) final rules for nutrition standards for the school lunch and breakfast programs still fail to provide adequate funding for schools, NSBA says.

The USDA estimates that the new rules will cost schools an additional $3.2 billion to implement, a more than 50 percent decrease from its initial $6.7 billion estimate. However, NSBA is concerned that the new estimate is based on faulty accounting.

“Much of the reduction is derived by delaying implementation of some of the costliest standards, including changes to the School Breakfast Program, whole grain requirements, and sodium targets,” said NSBA Executive Director Anne L. Bryant in a written statement.  “Even so, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that less than half of the $3.2 billion cost will be covered by the performance-based reimbursement rate increase of 6 cents per lunch.”

The new standards, part of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, require schools to offer more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lower-fat meat and protein options and restrict foods that are high in sodium, fat, or sugar.

NSBA supports community-led moves to bring more nutritious and locally grown foods to school cafeterias and has highlighted many examples of schools that have done so through its conferences, publications, and awards programs.

The increased costs from a federal mandate will only add to schools’ and communities’ budget problems, though, Bryant added.

“By splitting the difference, a 35-cent increase per lunch for a family with two children adds up to $125.00 in the first year alone,” she said, citing USDA estimates that show 1.6 million school-age children come from households with incomes just higher than the above eligibility for free or reduced-price meals, which is a household income of 185 to 200 percent of poverty level or $43,500 to $44,700 for a family of four.  “The few dollars a week more a family would have to pay could price those meals out of reach,” Bryant said.

The USDA reported that it received an “unprecedented” 132,000 public comments on the proposed standards. First Lady Michelle Obama promoted the changes as part of her “Let’s Move!” campaign to help students and families eat healthier meals and exercise.

NSBA has continuously advocated for more funding to support the new requirements, noting that the additional costs come at a time when schools are being forced to lay off teachers and other staff and cut programs. Last year NSBA supported report language passed by the House as part of the agriculture appropriations bill that directed the USDA to propose new rules that do not create unfunded mandates for school districts.

The USDA also plans to issue new rules for foods sold in vending machines, bake sales, and other venues.

“Not only are these activities outside the legitimate scope of federal government regulation, they provide much needed funds for school athletics, field trips and other programs that are in jeopardy given the current budget crisis for schools,” said Bryant.

Joetta Sack-Min|January 31st, 2012|Categories: Food Service, Nutrition, Obesity|

NSBA in the News: “The problem school boards have with the public”

Michael Rochholz, school board president of the Schoolcraft Community Schools in Schoolcraft, Mich. and member of the Michigan Association of School Boards, has penned a commentary, “The problem school boards have with the public,” for the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog. Rochholz is concerned that community members really don’t understand the public education system, how it works, how it’s changed, and the many successes that take place. He writes, “Based on my board work and the public education initiatives I’ve been involved in at the local, state and federal levels, I see that the public doesn’t know enough about public education and therefore, is not insisting on adequate representation in the political and policy arenas. It’s easy for others to bash public education when there’s no one to defend it.” Read more in the Washington Post.

Also, NSBA’s Director of Federal Programs Lucy Gettman weighed in on a recent move by the Department of Agriculture to regulate costs that school districts charge to their own cafeterias. Gettman tells Education Week that the USDA rule is a premature and potentially problematic move that could lead to more administrative costs for school districts.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|August 26th, 2011|Categories: Board governance, Educational Finance, Federal Programs, Food Service, Governance|

House approves funding bill with child nutrition report

NSBA is pleased that the House of Representatives has passed HR 2112, the FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill, with the committee’s report language on child nutrition intact.  Although the report language is non-binding, NSBA’s legislative advocacy team feels it sends a powerful message regarding congressional intent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA is charged with writing regulations for the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization, which was approved late last year.

The report language states: “New Nutrition Requirements for the School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.-The Committee notes that FNS [Food Nutrition Services] has responded to the actions required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, P.L. 111-296. The Committee urges restraint and practical timelines for implementing new national nutrition standards in the school breakfast and lunch programs. As many of the representatives in states and local school districts have cautioned, an overly aggressive implementation schedule and unrealistic demands on changes in nutrient content can lead to burdensome costs, estimated to be about $7 billion over 5 years. Therefore, the Committee directs FNS to issue a new proposed rule that would not require an increase in the cost of providing school meals.”

Read more about school nutrition issues at: www.nsba.org/Advocacy/Key-Issues/SchoolNutrition.

Joetta Sack-Min|June 17th, 2011|Categories: Educational Legislation, Food Service, Nutrition, Obesity, Wellness|
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