| GEARING UP. (l. to r.) Janey Thorton (l.) symbolically passed the SNA presidency to Mary Hill (r.). The ANC Exhibit Hall showcases hundreds of new products. A few teams of SNA professionals show their school spirit with matching shirts. |
Over 7,500 school nutrition professionals and industry members gathered in Chicago this summer for the School Nutrition Association's (SNA) 61st Annual National Conference. Keynote addresses by USDA Food and Nutrition Services Under Secretary Nancy Montanez-Johner and former First Lady of Mexico Marta Sahagun de Fox and more than 100 education sessions set the conference tone.
The exhibit hall featured over 365 companies sampling a wide variety of products as well as an unmistakable intensity and energy. In total, ANC set the stage for the millions of healthy school meals that will be served in the coming school year.
Among other topics, conference sessions focused on nutrition standards for foods in schools, food safety inspections, healthy meal options and the status of local wellness policy implementation. (One year has passed since federal law mandated that every school district approve such a policy.)
Vendors Pitch Healthful Foods
Attendees sampled the many new food and beverage products on display. Some of the more inventive items included freeze-dried soybean snacks, single-serve portions of hummus, soy protein tortillas, sunflower seed butter, low sodium and transfat free soups and a variety of affordable whole grain breaded products.
Attendees also test drove foodservice equipment and new technologies. The stars of the show were the vending machines designed to dispense balanced school lunches that comply with federal nutrition requirements. Nutrition education resources, point-of-sale software systems and programs, and kitchen and cafeteria equipment were also on display.
The main thrust of SNA's legislative agenda in 2007-08 will be a focus on the Farm Bill. "As Congress considers a new farm bill, we ask its members to remember the critical needs of our children," SNA says. For 2007, it has set the following legislative priorities:
Nutrition Standards. SNA urges the Congress to require a uniform national standard to govern the sale of all foods sold or made available on the school campus during the school day.
Funding of the Reduced Price School Meal Pilot. SNA is also urging Congress to provide $23 million over three years to carry out the reduced price school meal pilot.
School Breakfast Commodities. SNA has petitioned that a 10 cents credit be provided in USDA commodities for each school breakfast served.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. SNA supports an expansion of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
Farm Bill: Update
The House of Representatives passed the Farm Bill Extension Act of 2007 on July 27, 2007. It includes the following provisions: Expansion of the USDA Snack Program; continuation of the DOD Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program; strengthening and enhancing the food stamp program; increasing and guaranteeing funding for the George McGovern-Robert Dole International Food for Education and child nutrition program; and clarifying language that allows schools to use geographic preference in bidding and for procuring locally grown foods.
The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry expects to begin work on the Farm Bill with a markup beginning the week of Sept 10, 2007.