What’s on tap for school nutrition legislation

Here’s a look at the latest legislative forecast from School Nutrition Association leaders.
students at lunch
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As school nutrition operators gear up for the start of the new school year, things have only gotten busier on the legislative front.

At the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) Annual National Conference, SNA Vice President of Government Affairs and Media Relations Cathy Schuchart and other association members sat down to give an overview of what’s ahead, policy-wise.

Here’s a peek at what’s likely coming down the road.

Child Nutrition Reauthorization is unlikely to occur this year…

At the Legislative Action Conference this March, Schuchart mentioned that Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) was still up in the air. With little to no progress being made on the bill since then, it is even more unlikely that CNR will happen this year, she told ANC attendees. 

“The big thing that the House and the Senate are looking at right now is reauthorization of the Farm Bill, and that is a $1 trillion bill. That's the price tag right now,” she said.  “[…] it is basically taking the oxygen out of the room at this point.”

Though CNR, which provides an opportunity for legislators to make changes to school nutrition programs, usually occurs every five years, the last time it took place was in 2010.

… however, many school nutrition bills will soon be introduced

While CNR is likely out of the picture this year, that doesn’t spell a shortage of child nutrition bills for the coming months.

“You're gonna see, between now and next year, with this general election and probably by January, a lot of bills are gonna get introduced,” said Schuchart.

Over the past couple months, several federal school nutrition bills have been debuted, including The Feeding Our Rural Kids (FORK) Act, the Healthy Meals Helps Kids Learn Act and the No Hungry Kids in Schools Act. These bills seek to expand summer feeding efforts for kids in rural communities, increase federal reimbursements for school meals and widen free meal access for students, respectively.

The fight for free meals for all continues

As more states expand access to free meals for students, work is still underway at the federal level to drum up support for universal free meals.

The School Nutrition Association—along with several other organizations, including FoodCorps, the American Heart Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics—recently formed the Healthy School Meals for All Coalition, an organization dedicated to spreading the word about the benefits of providing all children with free meals at school.

Already, the group has written to the Senate Agriculture Committee and other lawmakers, and is working to find other ways it can help make free, healthy school meals for all a reality.

“This group is actively engaging in continuing the conversation of how do we get to healthy school meals for all,” School Nutrition Director and SNA Public Policy and Legislative Chair Jessica Gould said. “There [are] multiple avenues that we might need to take, and we are all working together to see how we can do that.”



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