In several posts written last year, I took the School Nutrition Association (SNA) to task for not asking Congress for more money to fund healthier school food, instead seeking only to roll-back school meal nutritional standards (“School Food Professionals Versus Kids: How Did It Come to This?“).
But the SNA’s spokesperson, Diane Pratt-Heavner, said the organization wouldn’t seek a funding increase because such a request would be a nonstarter on Capitol Hill. She told me last year:
Although SNA is emphasizing the extremely limited funding under which school meal programs must operate, members of Congress and their staff on both sides of the aisle from key authorizing committees have made it extremely clear that additional funding will not be available for child nutrition programs as part of reauthorization. It’s important to keep in mind that Congress has just cut funding for SNAP and advocates for child nutrition programs will need to fight to protect current funding in this difficult budget environment.
Then the SNA released its 2015 position paper. As expected, the organization continued to advocate for reversing key nutritional gains relating to sodium reduction, whole grains and requirement that children take a fruit or vegetable at lunch. But, to the surprise of many school food advocates, the organization also included a request that Congress increase meal reimbursements by 35 cents.
Based on my prior posts, you’d probably think I’d greet that development with great enthusiasm. And, to be clear, I am glad that the SNA is asking for more money, since almost everyone agrees that the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act has been underfunded since its passage in 2010.
But when the SNA’s members actually sit down with Congressional representatives at the organization’s Legislative Action Conference in Washington, DC next week, how strongly will they push for more funding? And what’s the likely effect of pairing the funding increase with the organization’s cost-free requests to roll back school food standards?
In an important piece written on today’s Beyond Chron, school food reformer Dana Woldow explains why so many of us who care about kids’ health feel uneasy about the SNA’s true priorities. Please take a moment to read it, and share your thoughts in a comment below.
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