Yesterday I shared with you a Beyond Chron piece by school food advocate Dana Woldow (“School Nutrition Association Pushes Fruitless Position“), in which Woldow criticized a recent position paper released by the School Nutrition Association (“SNA”) calling for various changes to the new school meal regulations. Among the modifications advocated by the SNA are: removing the new requirement that students take a fruit or vegetable with their meal; changes to the whole grain requirements; and extending the comment period for the interim final competitive food (school snack) regulations that are to go into effect this summer.
The SNA’s Director of Media Relations, Diane Pratt-Heavner, contacted me yesterday by email to share SNA’s response to Woldow’s piece (and it’s also published today in Beyond Chron). Here it is in full:
In her January 27th article “School Nutrition Association [SNA] Pushes Fruitless Position,” Dana Woldow stated that the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) serves “over 31 million kids a day.” In fact, since the new nutrition standards for school meals went into effect in 2012, average daily participation in NSLP has dropped to 30 million.
One million fewer students chose school lunch each day despite constant efforts by SNA members to promote the healthier meals to students. As Woldow points out, SNA members “are hardworking individuals who care very much about kids and their health.” For many years, members have participated in countless SNA education sessions, webinars, culinary demonstrations and other programming to gain the latest research and tips for encouraging students to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
For many school meal programs, the current regulations are financially unsustainable, and in today’s fiscal climate, Congress is unlikely to provide “additional funds” to support school meals as Woldow suggests. SNA members clearly support providing the healthiest possible meals for students, but to ensure overall sustainability of our nation’s child nutrition programs, Congress and USDA must provide these school nutrition professionals with greater menu planning flexibility.
Leah Schmidt, SNS
School Nutrition Association President
Director of Food and Nutrition Services for Hickman Mills C-1 School District (Missouri)
The SNA also published on its own website a press release regarding the position paper, which may be found here.
I’m going to leave this issue here for today, but in the coming days I’ll share here my own thoughts regarding some of SNA’s proposed changes to the school meal regulations, particularly the issue of requiring students to take fruits and vegetables. And if you have your own thoughts on SNA’s recommendations, please share them below. I especially welcome the input of school food professionals, who may always comment here anonymously.
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