A month after the USDA proposed new rules to make school meals healthier, hundreds of school nutrition directors will come to Washington next week to tell lawmakers to reject the stricter standards. The School Nutrition Association, which represents school food workers nationwide, argues that stricter rules will be difficult for schools to meet, as they still face labor shortages and supply chain disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the avian flu epidemic. (No paywall)
School meals should be free for all kids, regardless of their families' incomes, said the School Nutrition Association in a position paper released on Wednesday. Students have racked up $19.2 million in debt for meals they couldn't pay for since the waivers that made school meals universally free during the pandemic expired last spring, said the group.
With a new academic year on the horizon, K through 12 food directors are ready with tricks to keep meals flowing, such as cutting pizza boxes and clamshell containers in half when lunch trays are not available, said a report by the School Nutrition Association on Tuesday. "The supply chain crisis, labor shortages and high costs are a long-term reality for school meal programs," said SNA president Lori Adkins.
Congress should revise child nutrition programs so that all students are eligible for free meals at school, said the School Nutrition Association in a position paper released on Tuesday. The group, which speaks on behalf of school food directors, also called for higher reimbursement rates for each lunch and breakfast served.
Nine out of every 10 schools are providing meals for free to all students under USDA waivers that are an unexpected issue in congressional budget negotiations this week. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is a strong opponent of extending the waivers, issued to help schools cope with the pandemic, into the 2022-23 school year.
Next fall, the Biden administration will propose new nutrition standards for school meals, the the first attempt to strengthen the rules since 2012. Health advocates are already starting to make their wish lists known—further lowering sodium, making meals more nutritious and, for the first time ever, capping the amount of added sugar in food served to students. (No paywall)
School districts across the country pared their menus, reduced staffing, and canceled equipment purchases because of the pandemic, but nearly half of them still lost money in the cafeteria during the past school year, said a survey released on Thursday by the School Nutrition Association. More than eight of every 10 food directors said they were concerned about financial losses and staff shortages in the upcoming school year.
School nutrition standards haven’t been updated since 2010, when the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act — former First Lady Michelle Obama’s overhaul of school nutrition standards that mandated more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and reduced sodium — was passed. As Congress moves forward with a long-overdue Child Nutrition Reauthorization, lawmakers and advocates are sparring over what changes, if any, should be made to the food kids eat at school.(No paywall)
Congress should permanantly expand the school food program so that all public school students can eat breakfast and lunch for free, said the School Nutrition Association on Tuesday. The association said many school food directors expect to run a deficit this school year because of school closures and the higher cost of preparing and serving meals during the pandemic.
School meal programs have taken a massive financial hit during the coronavirus crisis, according to a new survey from the School Nutrition Association. The survey, which includes responses from school nutrition directors in 1,614 school districts across the country, points to the crippling costs of adapting to pandemic-related constraints, and significant losses due to a drop in participation in the school-lunch program.(No paywall)
The USDA’s food-box giveaway program has been the Trump administration’s answer to hunger during the pandemic but officials have failed to answer questions about alleged shortcomings and political machinations of the $4 billion program, said Democrats on the House Agriculture subcommittee on …
The biggest threat to school lunch and school breakfast, the federally funded programs that feed more than 30 million pupils daily, is legislation that doesn't exist at the moment but could easily be proposed as a deficit-cutting tool, says the School Nutrition Association. The group, which speaks for school food directors, put opposition to block grants at the top of its list of congressional goals this year.
With Congress settling into its election year agenda, the School Nutrition Association, speaking for school food directors, says lawmakers should oppose any effort to convert funding for school food programs into block grants.
A three-state test of block grants for school lunch and breakfast programs would short-change schools and lead to less-nutritious meals for students, said a chorus of opponents that included lawmakers, antihunger groups and a group speaking for school food directors. The news conference on Capitol Hill underlined the split between the School Nutrition Association (SNA) and its one-time Republican allies.
The House Education Committee approved a child nutrition bill to slash a program allowing free meals for students at schools in poor neighborhoods and to start a three-state test of block-grants for school food — with a bloc of Tea Party Republicans saying broader change was needed. The bill, HR 5003, was viewed as a partisan attack on broadly popular programs with little chance to become law.
Despite criticism of the idea, the Republican-drawn child nutrition bill filed in the House would curtail sharply the use of a provision that eases the paperwork burden on schools in low-income neighborhoods that provide free meals to all of their students.
In the face of a proposal to curtail a program allowing free school meals for all children in high-poverty areas, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told lawmakers, "It would be unwise to roll back standards, saddle parents and school administrators with more paperwork or weaken assistance to our most vulnerable children."
The Republican-controlled House Education Committee would reduce access to a program that allows schools in high-poverty areas to offer free meals to all of their students, says the School Nutrition Association.