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Articles tagged with Child Nutrition Act

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: Educational Legislation, Federal Programs, Obesity, Nutrition, Food Service, Policy Formation, Budgeting, Federal Advocacy|Tags: , , , |

As food costs inflate, federal funding for child nutrition remains depressed

33-12130430812yrA12787431361636935689breadwhite-thI’ve been hearing that food prices are going up, but it really didn’t hit me until I had to buy bread the other day.

I’m always willing to spend a bit more for the nutty, crunchy, whole grain type, preferably organic. But at the Harris Teeter near my house I had to shell out at least $4 for a loaf for anything other than the white stuff you cut the crusts off of in elementary school.

One of NSBA’s main complaints about the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization last year was the lack of federal funding to meet the new requirements for more nutritious foods. While there was an increase for the costs of school lunches, that only covered a portion of the increased costs—about six cents per meal.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently estimated that the federal government’s contribution for the free and reduced price lunch program will come eight cents short of the increased cost (about 14 cents) of a more nutritious meal. And rising food costs will only exacerbate the problem for school district.

NSBA’s advocacy department did the math: If a school district has 5,000 students who qualify for FRPL, that’s $400 a day in extra expenses. Over the course of a typical 180-day school year, that’s $72,000—more than the cost of a teacher.

Last night the House of Representatives began debate on its agriculture appropriations bill. NSBA is supporting report language issued by the appropriations committee that directs the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to propose new rules that do not create unfunded mandates for school districts.

Naomi Dillon|June 15th, 2011|Categories: Governance, Policy Formation, American School Board Journal|Tags: |

USDA seeks to limit potatoes presence in school meals

baked_potatoOnce a staple of Americans’ meat-and-potato diets, the lowly spud may soon be banned from school cafeterias. But not without a fight.

A recently proposed rule by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that would eliminate white potatoes from federally subsidized school breakfasts and limit their serving at lunch has set off another round of protests about the federal government’s school nutrition regulations.

The USDA proposal would limit starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, corn, peas and lima beans, to a total of one cup per week for federally subsidized school lunches.

The potato industry is now promoting its product as a “true gateway vegetable” that could lead kids to broccoli, according to the Wall Street Journal.

I’m not convinced about that, but Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, which is one of the leading states producing potatoes, noted at a hearing that the spud contains more nutrients than iceberg lettuce, which hasn’t been banned.

As the potato industry mobilizes its lobbyists, some school nutritionists are also defending the spud. The Gooding school district in Idaho, which won a USDA award for schools that feed children healthier meals and promote physical activity, will lose its twice-a-week potato bar, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Naomi Dillon|May 23rd, 2011|Categories: Governance, Wellness, Policy Formation, American School Board Journal|Tags: , |

Film continues to underscore importance of healthy diet in U.S.


I think it was a coincidence, but this weekend the 2004 documentary “Super Size Me” showed up on cable. Since the Child Nutrition Act reauthorization consumed much of my work last week, it somehow seemed appropriate to review filmmaker Morgan Spurlock’s assault on McDonalds and its influence on an increasingly overweight and unhealthy American population.

It had been several years since my husband and I had watched Morgan spend 30 days of his life eating three meals a day from McDonalds menus and documenting the impact on his body (a gain of almost 25 lbs., plus a fatty liver issues, depression, and an addiction to high-fat, high carbohydrate food). The experiment—while extreme—did make us question our own eating habits and bemoan all the fast food we’d consumed in our earlier years.

What we’d both forgotten was that Morgan didn’t spend his entire 30 days investigating McDonalds—along the way on his cross-country trip, he visited several schools. At a West Virginia elementary school, he toured a school cafeteria freezer with a cook who showed him the vats of frozen, high-fat processed foods sent by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of the federal school lunch program.

The worker explained that she and her colleagues rarely made food from scratch but merely reheated items such as barbeque pork sandwiches. Morgan also interviewed students at a Wisconsin high school who cobbled together lunches of French fries, potato chips, candy bars, and high sugar drinks from the school’s cafeteria line and vending machines.

Naomi Dillon|December 6th, 2010|Categories: Governance, Wellness, Policy Formation, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |

Child nutrition, a visible cause this year

untitledToday the House Committee on Education & Labor will markup— consider and possibly revise— the Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act, which is the House’s revamped version of the Child Nutrition Act.

If you’ve been following, the Senate agriculture committee proposed the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act in March, which was their stab at reauthorizing the bill that pays  for school meals, income based nutrition programs and is the avenue the USDA uses to impose regulations and standards.

These efforts are part of a flurry of legislation and initiatives launched in recent months, aimed at tackling childhood obesity, a worthy cause few argue against though many hold different opinions on the appropriate strategy.

Campaigns to end hunger and childhood obesity, for example, have traditionally been viewed as separate issues. When a child is hungry, providing food is critical while providing healthy food is desirable.

Naomi Dillon|July 14th, 2010|Categories: Governance, Wellness, Policy Formation, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , , |
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