Reports of Initial Progress in School Meal Talks

by Bettina Elias Siegel on July 11, 2014

Today’s Politico Morning Agriculture Report says “[p]olitics stayed out of the room [Thursday] when USDA brought together school nutrition and health groups to hash out school lunch regulatory concerns, say sources who participated in the meeting.”  The full story is on paywall-protected Politico Pro but you can read the Morning Ag summary of the story here.

My own source further reports that yesterday’s discussion was “constructive” and that USDA is committed to continuing talks with the School Nutrition Association (SNA), as well as looking into ways “to provide intense and comprehensive technical assistance to the schools that need it most.”

Meanwhile, the SNA begins its annual conference in Boston this coming week, where no doubt the organization’s current efforts to weaken school meal nutrition standards will be a hot topic of discussion.

Stay tuned.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lunch Lady July 11, 2014 at 10:26 am

“Meanwhile, the SNA begins its annual conference in Boston this coming week, where no doubt the organization’s current efforts to weaken school meal nutrition standards will be a hot topic of discussion.”

Ouch … This is kinda a low blow.

First, SNA’s goal is NOT to weaken school meal nutrition standards. It is to give schools some time to adapt to the 1,353,675,343,543,843 changes that have happened in school lunch, breakfast, snacks, professional standards, and wellness policies that has happened in the past TWO YEARS.

I can guarantee you that Boston will be place of idea sharing and mentoring. Point in fact, Janey Thornton from USDA will be there in Boston supporting, listening, and cheering on the school food service folks who love their job and all the kids they serve each day.

I’ll be there … And I wish you could be there, too, to see what a great atmosphere it will be.

Reply

Bettina Elias Siegel July 11, 2014 at 4:53 pm

No low blow intended, Lunch Lady, and as a regular reader I know you know how much I respect food service folks for all that they do in the face of huge challenges.

But when we’re talking about rolling back a requirement that kids take fruit/veg with their meal, and instead go back to the “beige old days,” or when we’re talking about reinstating the ability of schools to easily sell a la carte items like pizza every single day (instead of tying such sales to the menu on the reimbursable line), that is a per se “weakening” of nutrition standards — regardless of how pure SNA’s motives may be in asking for those changes. (A lot of people think they’re not pure at all and are dictated by Big Food, but the linked post above makes clear that I think the situation is a lot more nuanced.)

And, by the way, I tried hard to get to SNA’s conference in Boston! I really wanted to be there. (We could have met in person, Lunch Lady! :-) ) But between the airfare, the time away from home (requiring coverage by a very busy Mr. TLT) and the difficulty in getting a press pass, I finally threw in the towel. Please do feel free to come back here and let us know your impressions, though. And thanks, as always, for your comments here.

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Amanda July 11, 2014 at 12:05 pm

The link to Morning Ag is broken.

Reply

Bettina Elias Siegel July 11, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Oh, dear. Fixed! Thanks for letting me know, Amanda.

Reply

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