By Lynn Harvey, EdD, RDN, SNS, SNA President 2018-02-05 11:43:33
Your Voice Is Your Power on Capitol Hill SNA’S ANNUAL LEGISLATIVE ACTION CONFERENCE (LAC) WILL BE HELD NEXT MONTH. For 46 years, school nutrition professionals and allies have been gathering in Washington, D.C., to ask members of Congress and the administration to support the federal child nutrition programs. We seek support in the form of funding, reasonable regulations and positive recognition for the dual role of school meals as integral to the instructional day and as a critical hunger safety net. While the Association has a highly effective legislative team comprised of SNA leaders and staff working all year long to meet the goals of our annual Position Paper, their work relies on the grassroots advocacy of SNA members visiting Capitol Hill offices during LAC, as well as on the home front. In my travels as president, I’ve encountered some Association members who are personally uncomfortable with or anxious about this advocacy role for different reasons. I want to take the opportunity of this column to dispel preconceived notions about “advocacy.” When SNA calls members to action, we simply want each of you to share accurate information about school nutrition programs, especially those in your communities. No one else can speak as well as we can in telling school nutrition stories. If we are silent, there is plenty of other “background noise” that will fill the void, and we know that other voices aren’t the experts that SNA members are—and others often get it wrong. Whether you come to Washington for LAC or speak your truth from home, I urge you to familiarize yourself with the 2018 Position Paper (page 18), paying special attention to our first priority: Oppose any effort to block grant school meal programs. Block grants will dismantle a highly effective federal program and put children at risk by cutting funds and abolishing national standards. My feelings on this issue are even more direct: Block grants renege on the promises made to America’s children when the National School Lunch Act was signed in 1946. We cannot let today’s lawmakers go back on that promise. Your participation in sharing accurate information with those in government who make decisions that affect your programs and our kids is more important in 2018 than ever before. I know we say this every year, but that’s because each year brings new threats and more pressures. I hope we have record attendance at LAC this year and that your voice will be among those speaking up.
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