Readers react to SNA criticism

Two child nutrition directors write letters expressing disagreement following blog post about School Nutrition Association.

A while back I wrote a blog about the School Nutrition Association being careful what it asked for. Several readers contacted me regarding the blog. It’s always nice to hear from readers—especially when they disagree with you.

The first email I received was from Sally Spero, child nutrition director for Lakeside Union School District, in California, who wrote:

“I would like to bring to your attention your blog "Be Careful What You Wish For" taking the School Nutrition Association to task for recent lobbying activities regarding the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, stating that the legislation was what SNA had asked for and (presumably) could not now legitimately complain about.

“In fact, SNA has maintained a consistent policy towards the positions referenced in this year's 2014 Position Paper. In 2008 SNA issued a National Nutrition Standards report prior to HHFKA [Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act] that did *not* include the provisions SNA is working to improve at present (too many whole grains, unrealistic sodium targets, etc.) In 2011 SNA submitted 11 pages of comments on the weaknesses of HHFKA to USDA. Re-reading this document it is almost Cassandra-like in it's warnings of higher costs, lower participation, challenges posed to manufacturers, plate waste and other related issues.”

The second email was from Chris Burkhardt, child nutrition director and wellness coordinator for Lakota Local Schools, in Liberty Township, Ohio, who wrote:

“While I agree with some (but not all) regulations from USDA in regards to the HHFKA, they have come too late, without REAL consultation with directors as well as unrealistic timelines. For example: In the past we asked for a level playing field for competitive foods. Most schools adopted AHG [Alliance for a Healthier Generation] guidelines from the onset. Since USDA did not step up and make national guidelines that states AND manufacturers could follow, states made their own. Now in the eleventh hour USDA comes in and has enacted policies, which contradict many of the state guidelines. The two laws working in concert make the actual practice twice as strict and nearly impossible to follow without bankrupting some districts. Our district has a large a la carte program and we WERE happy to say that all of our products were AHG compliant or were a component for a meal. Now, we will be struggling to find out how to offer those items that students want while meeting the parts of the law, which are arbitrary and capricious. In the end, I read very little of your article that I agreed with.”

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