1. Universal Free School Meals for All
✅ Momentum with House Educations and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott. He introduced a bill during pandemic that resulted in elevating the conversation about this.
✅ Reduces childhood hunger
✅ Supports learning by reducing tardiness and illnesses
✅ Improves learning outcomes
✅ Eliminates cost barriers for children who’s families are near the cut off line
✅ Eliminates the burden of reporting family income from children
✅ Eliminates stigma in school
The time and momentum for this is now. We must make school meals a part of the school day to ensure all children have access to healthy meals. A family of 4 must have a Gross Income of $33,475 or less to qualify for free meals.
2. Restore Sound Nutrition Standards
✅ Based on science and the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans
✅ Necessary to reduce obesity and improve diet quality
✅ Educational opportunity to teach children lifelong healthy habits
✅ Due to increased food insecurity this is needed now more than ever
3. Increase Reimbursement Rates
✅ School nutrition programs operate on a per meal reimbursement rate
✅ All expenses for operating the program come from that reimbursement
✅ Federal reimbursement rates are based on the Consumer Index of Food Away from Home- this is not a good Index to use due to the fact that it does not take into consideration the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables and milk.
✅ After operational costs, approximately $1.20 – $1.30 is remaining for food
✅ At least a 10% increase is needed at this time
Reimbursement rates for a free school meal during 2020-2021 school year.
Reimbursement rates for a free school meal during 2010-2011 school year – 10 years ago
4. Modernize the Summer Meals Program
✅ Summer meals program is based on decisions made in 1960
✅ Need to review serving models and identify best ways to meet needs of communities
✅ Need to review meal pattern and nutrition standards to adhere to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
✅ Remove congregate feeding site requirements
✅ Broaden the income eligibility percentage to increase number of sites
5. Revise Use of USDA Foods Dollars
✅ 20% of school food service budget is based on annual allocated USDA foods dollars
✅ State agencies make the decision as to what is available in their state
✅ Using allocated dollars to buy local would improve the type of products available to districts, the quality of food served, and add to community economies
✅ Replace program with a single series of pass-through values to be deducted from distributor bills for specific agricultural groupings.
6. Single Meal Pattern
✅ Create a single meal plan and nutrition requirements for all nutrition programs under the authority of school nutrition programs (SBP, NSLP, CACFP, SSO, and SFSP).