Since its passing in 2010, the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act (HHFKA) has brought the hot-button issue of childhood obesity and school nutrition to center stage. For better or worse, this act has changed the entire industry from the way manufacturers formulate their food items for schools to the specific recipes that are placed on cafeteria menus. Even news outlets, celebrity chefs and parents have joined the discussion.
The School Nutrition Association (SNA), which represents more than 55,000 school nutrition professionals, has had the difficult task of balancing the needs of its members with the interest of food manufacturers and other industry players that want their voices heard in this debate.
As Congress looks to reauthorize the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act on Sep. 30th, 2015, SNA has weighed in with a number of key recommendations, outlined in their 2015 position paper including:
- Increase the per meal reimbursement for school breakfast and lunch by 35 cents to ensure School Food Authorities (SFAs) can afford to meet federal requirements.
- Maintain the Target 1 sodium level reductions and suspend implementation of further targets.
- Grant individual SFAs the authority to decide whether students are required to take a fruit or vegetable as part of a reimbursable meal.
- Restore the initial requirement that at least half of grains offered through school lunch and breakfast programs be whole grain rich.
- Allow all food items that are permitted to be served as part of a reimbursable meal to be sold at any time as an a la carte item.
- Modify Section 205, Paid Lunch Equity of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, by exempting SFAs that had a positive fund balance at the end of the previous school year.
- Provide program simplification.
“SNA supports strong federal nutrition standards for school meals, including calorie caps and mandates to offer a greater quantity and variety of fruits and vegetables,” said SNA CEO Patricia Montague, CAE. “However, some of USDA’s regulations under the law have unnecessarily increased costs and waste for school meal programs and caused many students to swap healthy school meals for junk food fare. SNA is asking Congress to provide schools adequate funding and flexibility, allowing school nutrition professionals to plan creative, appealing menus that will entice students to eat healthy school meals.”
Regardless of where you stand on this issue, I think we can all agree, it's an important one! On March 1-4, 2015, SNA members, allies and advocates will be heading to Capitol Hill as part of their annual Legislative Action Conference to help shape this discussion. Can't make it to Washington? SNA provides other ways to get involved. Learn More >