By Cathy Schuchart, SNA Staff Vice President of Government Affairs and Media Relations 2017-06-13 05:13:02
Position Progress But Priorities Persist CAN YOU BELIEVE IT’S BEEN LESS THAN THREE MONTHS SINCE SNA’S RECORD-BREAKING 45TH ANNUAL LEGISLATIVE ACTION CONFERENCE? At that gathering, we introduced our 2017 Position Paper, explaining our legislative priorities to federal lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Although we were unsure what to expect from the new Administration, our enthusiasm was undiminished. We had a number of avenues to explore that could help us achieve our goals and we were moving forward. Fast forward one month and boom! One Position Paper item checked off, done. Secretary Purdue’s first public act was to announce support for local flexibility regarding key areas of the school meal nutrition standards (see page 14). This included SNA’s top two priorities: maintaining Target 1 sodium levels and restoring the initial whole grains requirement. Another Position Paper priority is to request funding for a study that would lead to regulatory simplification and improved efficiencies in our programs. This was included in the FY 2017 budget. The wording differs slightly, but the intent is the same. Check. SNA continues to advocate for expanding USDA Foods to provide support to the School Breakfast Program and against any effort to block grant the federal programs. The President’s proposed budget took a hatchet to some nutrition assistance programs, but school meal programs were not among them. Surely, we can kick back and relax, right? No we can’t. We’re certainly grateful to our friends on the Hill and at USDA for their ongoing support. But these remain uncertain times in Washington, with an escalating debt and entrenched partisanship to match. It’s critical that individual SNA members continue to stay informed and stay active as vocal advocates for school meal programs. Your stories mean so much to our legislative achievements. At a recent congressional appropriations hearing, Secretary Purdue testified: “I have found that school nutrition professionals are some of the most respected people in the schools … My strategy is to listen to those people who know best and are closest to the issue.” Keep speaking up. The support of the Secretary, along with key Congressional allies like Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan), Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), is a direct consequence of your unflagging advocacy. Successful Advocacy Starts With YOU! 3 STEPS 1) TAKE ACTION. Sign up on SNA’s online “Take Action” page (schoolnutrition.org/takeaction) to receive Action Alert emails that notify you of critical times to contact your lawmakers. The alerts will link you to a page to send an email to your Senators and Representative. 2) KNOW YOUR LAWMAKER. The SNA Action Network features a “Look Up Your Legislators” tool. Simply enter your zip code to find links to the contact information of your Senators and Representative. Keep this information handy so that you can reach out to them quickly when action is needed on a legislative issue. Check out their websites to learn more about their positions on key issues, as well as their current committee assignments. 3) TEACH YOUR LAWMAKER. Invite your legislators to dine at your school or district and see a school meals program in action. And now is the time! Your lawmakers will be in their home districts in August, right when many of you will be hosting back-to-school events. Check out SNA’s Cafeteria Site Visit Toolkit at http://tinyurl.com/CafeSiteVisit-SNMag for practical ideas about how to make these arrangements and showcase what you do every day.
Published by School Nutrition Association. View All Articles.
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