Articles tagged with School Nutrition Act

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: , , , , , |

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: , , , , |

Eating better, healthier should be a year-round resolution

As the mother of a toddler who barely eats beyond cheese crackers and cereal bars, I would not last a week as a school food services manager. For all the work it takes to find affordable and healthy foods—a job that will get harder as budgets are squeezed and new regulations from the School Nutrition Act  go into effect—getting kids to enjoy eating them is even tougher.

Last summer, I was excited to come across one of the most interesting, successful and comprehensive programs to not only address healthy eating but also teach students where their food comes from. For the past few years I’ve volunteered as a judge for the Association of School Business Officials annual Pinnacle Awards, which honor innovative and effective programs created by their members. Last year, one of the awards went to Barbara Nissel, the food service coordinator for the Great Valley School District in Pennsylvania.

After finding that a “buy fresh, buy local” initiative was impossible for her school district to implement on a large scale, Barbara decided to try an even more “homegrown” project: a community garden that would benefit the 4,500-student suburban school district. Students and community members tend to the plants, local farmers and businesses donate supplies and expertise, and the food service staff harvests, freezes, and prepares the vegetables for use in the school cafeterias. Last year, the district’s food services department saved more than $3,400 by using their own produce, but more importantly, gave students exposure to more types of vegetables and are learning how to grow and produce healthy foods.

Nicole Melia, the district’s nutrition coordinator, says that “The garden has raised our total awareness of fresh fruits and vegetables improved our presentation techniques, and we are seeing greater consumption of fruits and vegetables all over. The students are especially excited the days where they see signage that states the vegetables are from our garden.”

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Naomi Dillon|January 3rd, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal, Leadership, Wellness|Tags: , , |

News analysis finds food at school not so palatable, even to fast food chains

If you’ve been a bit wary about what’s being served in your school cafeteria, turns out, you have reason to be. If you haven’t been, well, perhaps you should take a closer look.

As Congress gets ready to reauthorize the School Nutrition Act, USA Today has been looking into the food served in schools, particularly meats. What they’ve found is that federal standards are lax enough that meat rejected by fast-food restaurants and consumers still can be served in schools.

Photo courtesy Stockvault

Photo courtesy Stockvault

Already, one story about tainted meat has the U.S. Department of Agriculture vowing to make changes in its system for notifying school systems of recalls and possible contaminations. This came after shipments of potentially tainted beef were shipped to schools this summer.

But there may be a lot more to this story, and from what USA Today has uncovered it looks like powerful lobbyists representing the agriculture have been pushing inferior products into the school lunch program. Today, USA Today reports on the standards set for meat in school lunches, and writes:
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Naomi Dillon|December 9th, 2009|Categories: American School Board Journal, Governance|Tags: , , , |
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