Articles in the Obesity category

House funding bill gives school relief from nutrition mandates

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) successfully supported language in the U.S. House of Reprepesentative’s fiscal year 2015 funding bill for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to grant flexibility and relief from certain requirements for school meals and competitive foods standards.

The bill, approved by subcommittee this week, would require USDA to establish a waiver process for schools that cannot comply with national nutrition standards without incurring a net loss in the food operation. NSBA is supporting additional flexibility provisions when the bill is considered by the Appropriations Committee next week.

“Students need healthy meals and adequate nutrition to achieve their potential in school, and school board members are committed to ensuring all students are prepared to learn,” said NSBA Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel. “However, school boards cannot ignore the higher costs and operational issues created by the rigid mandates of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.”

In a May 19 letter to the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, NSBA urges revisions to federal requirements for school meals and competitive foods, including:

  • Retaining the current requirement that 50 percent of grains offered for lunch and breakfast be whole grain rich rather than further increasing the requirement to 100 percent;
  • Retaining the July 1, 2014, Target 1 sodium levels, and suspend implementation of further reductions of sodium levels unless and until scientific research supports such reductions for children;
  • Eliminating the requirement that students must take a fruit or vegetable as part of a reimbursable breakfast and/or lunch, in order to reduce plate waste and program costs;
  • Allowing any food item permitted to be served as part of a reimbursable meal to be sold at any time as a competitive food, in order to eliminate unnecessarily complex and duplicative standards for food items sold in schools.

NSBA also is supporting the Reducing Federal Mandates on School Lunch Act, HR 3663, sponsored by Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota. The legislation would provide options for school districts struggling to comply with some of the more problematic mandates of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

Joetta Sack-Min|May 20th, 2014|Categories: Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Food Service, Nutrition, Obesity|Tags: , , , , , |

Call for proposals for NSBA’s 2015 Annual Conference

2015 NSBA Annual Conference

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is requesting proposals for breakout sessions to be conducted during our 75th Annual Conference in Nashville, Tenn., March 21-23. The conference will draw thousands of attendees, exhibitors, and guests representing nearly 1,400 school districts, and will feature distinguished speakers and hundreds of workshops, presentations, and other events that will help school board members develop leadership skills, boost student learning, and improve school districts’ operations.

If your school district or organization has an idea for a high-quality breakout session that focuses on a topic of critical interest to school board members for presentation at this conference, please complete a proposal online by the deadline of Monday, June 16 at 5 p.m. EDT. Only proposals submitted through the online process  will be considered. Breakout sessions will be 30, 45, or 75 minutes in length and will be scheduled throughout the conference.

Proposals are being solicited for the following focus areas:

• Innovations in District Management
• Legal and Legislative Advocacy
• Professional and Personal Development
• School Board/Superintendent Partnerships
• Student Achievement and Accountability
• Technology + Learning Solutions

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: , , , , |

First Lady announces new Active Schools grants for school boards

First Lady Michelle Obama announced a new program to help school officials promote physical fitness in youth as part of her ongoing “Let’s Move” campaign.

The White House hosted a conference call with school board members and administrators on March 19 to introduce a new program, “Let’s Move: Active Schools,” funded by corporate sponsors, to guide local school districts to encourage physical activity. Up to 1,000 school districts will be awarded $1,000 grants to help kick-start their programs.

In addition to the grants, the program offers a free professional development program to show teachers how to integrate physical activities each day. It also gives technical assistance through calls and in-person visits, online resources such as curricula and toolkits, and communications tools. The National School Boards Association’s advocacy staff participated in on the call and noted that the program is voluntary for school boards.

“We know you are dealing with competing demands, and it feels like it is getting harder to find the time and money to keep kids active,” Obama said during the conference call. “This will give the tools and support to bring back physical activity in schools.”

Jill Wynns, a member of the San Francisco Unified Board of Education, spoke on the call about her school district’s investments in student wellness. The initiative began 10 years ago as a means to curb childhood obesity and began with a partnership with the city’s Board of Supervisors.  From there, the district pulled together a Food and Fitness Advisory Committee made up of community members and city employees who worked to pass an initiative to fund an array of programs that encouraged physical activity.

“We found that it is not enough to tell teachers to do more physical activity. They need curriculum, professional development aligned with the PE standards and integrated into their instructional calendar,” said Wynns. “These efforts represent our local, community-initiated commitment to insuring the health of our students as well as a model for coordinating the resources of the community.”

School board member Mark B. Miller of the Centennial school district in Pennsylvania asked the First Lady’s advisor, Sam Kass, how the program could help school districts overcome obstacles such as space limitation and contractual agreements with staff.

Kass suggested a school district create a small wellness team that could look for ways to implement the plan, using the Active Schools resources. One of the most important aspects of the program is to find a champion within the school district who can spearhead the program, he added.

For more information, visit the program’s website: www.letsmoveschools.org.

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|March 21st, 2013|Categories: Announcements, Nutrition, Obesity, School Boards|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 federal nutrition rules caused a ‘buzz’

So many parents have complained that school meal portions are too meager—and that their children are hungry and tired by the end of the school day—that Congress is beginning to pay attention.

That’s one of several developments that are keeping policymakers busy more than two years after passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, said Lucy Gettman, NSBA’s director of federal programs.

Speaking at a Saturday briefing to NSBA’s Council of Urban Boards of Education (CUBE) in Washington, D.C., Gettman told urban education leaders that the new federal rules on school meals that went into effect this year caused “quite a buzz.”

Although some expected the biggest complaint would center on inadequate financial support for new and costly mandates, Gettman said the most notable criticism has focused on the size of federally reimbursable school meals as mandated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Designed as a tool to combat the nation’s childhood obesity problem, the strict calorie limits on meals has prompted tens of thousands of letters and phone calls to members of Congress.

“Parents, students, and other citizens were giving their members of Congress an earful,” Gettman said, noting that one online music video mocking the meal rules has gotten more than 1 million viewers.

The protests prompted the House Committee on Education and Workforce to send a letter asking the U.S. Government Accounting Office to look into the impact of the new law and the USDA rules.

In the letter were a “pretty thorough list of questions, and I think it will really be helpful to Congress once they get a report back,” Gettman said. “It can guide Congress on future policy.”

The public outcry already has prompted the USDA to grant schools some relief in meeting federal guidelines, she added, “but the relief is only temporary” as that the rules were waived only for the rest of this school year.

Another issue still unresolved is what federal standards will exist for “competitive foods”—food sold in vending machines or at concession stands at school athletic events, Gettman said. Those rules—which USDA has yet to release in draft form—could affect the revenue that schools use to support athletic, food-service, and other programs.

School policymakers also are waiting for draft rules concerning the training and certification of food-service personnel.

USDA has indicated it’s going to do “everything in its power so that these standards won’t be costly,” Gettman said. “But the proof is in the pudding.”

Del Stover|January 27th, 2013|Categories: CUBE, FRN Conference 2013, Leadership Conference 2013, Legislative advocacy, Nutrition, Obesity, Urban Schools|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|

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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