For those following the battle over healthier school food, here’s the latest since my last update at the end of June (“This Isn’t Applebees: A School Food Update“):
Will the SNA Change Course?
The School Nutrition Association (SNA), the leading force behind efforts to roll back school nutrition standards in Congress, held its annual meeting earlier this month and installed a new president, Jean Ronnei. Ronnei is the former school nutrition director for St. Paul, Minnesota, a district which has been lauded for its progressive meal program. So the big question is: does Ronnei’s election portend a possible softening of the organization’s anti-nutrition stance or will it be business as usual in the coming year? Dana Woldow combs through Ronnei’s background to answer that question here.
Meanwhile, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) just concluded a five-part series looking at the various justifications offered by the SNA to gut school nutrition standards, including excuses like “There’s a shortage of whole grain Rice Krispies Treats” and “Healthier standards have driven up school food costs.”
The last post in the UCS series appears here, and the remaining four are linked at the bottom of the post. (Update: here’s a once handy link to all the posts.)
Nutrition Waivers Added to Appropriations Bills
As I mentioned earlier this week, the Senate appropriations committee has approved an amendment which would weaken school food sodium and grain requirements, just as the House did last month. But it’s important to remember that these actions are part of the appropriations process, not the Child Nutrition Reauthorization. So these amendments, if adopted, would remain effective only through fiscal year 2016. The more serious concern for school food advocates is ….
The Child Nutrition Reauthorization
…. which is the once-every-five-year Congressional reauthorization of child nutrition programs. What’s the latest on the CNR? Politico’s Morning Agriculture report tells us that on the Senate side, leaders “are continuing to work toward a bipartisan deal on child nutrition reauthorization, and staff are currently drafting bill text, according to aides. But the timeline remains unclear as the current law is set to expire Sept. 30. . . . On the House side, Education and the Workforce aides have not confirmed whether a bill is being drafted . . . .”
How You Can Support Strong School Nutrition Standards
In the midst of all of this Congressional wrangling, where are the voices of parents and kids? To show your support for preserving science-based school nutrition standards, please sign these petitions from Food Policy Action and the American Heart Association.
You can also share on social media this new infographic from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation . . .
. . . as well as this new Funny or Die video from the American Heart Association featuring Nick Offerman. “Acres of pizza, kissed by the sun. . . . What could be healthier?” Enjoy.
And of course I’ll continue to keep you updated on the latest school food news here on The Lunch Tray.
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