Over 850 school foodservice operators and industry representatives met to advocate on behalf of child nutrition in the nation's Capitol in April as part of the School Nutrition Association's annual Legislative Action Conference.
Among those addressing the LAC were former president Bill Clinton; Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack; USDA Deputy Undersecretary Janey Thornton; and USDA Child Nutrition and Distribution Directors Cindy Long and Cathie McCullough. Other speakers included NY Asst. Attorney General John F. Carroll, who reviewed the state's ongoing investigation of net-off-invoice rebate practices in New York School markets.
Vilsack's presentation focused on the challenges of funding any new initiatives given the current government fiscal crises, while Clinton discussed activities of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a nutrition advocacy group he co-founded.
Many attendees joined state delegations to call on legislators and advocate on behalf of key child nutrition issues. These included:
- • efforts to moderate so-called “Section 205” rules in the reauthorization bill that for the first time will require a single, national minimum price for paid school meals;
- • acceleration of USDA's mandate to specify and limit which local school indirect costs can be charged to school foodservice accounts;
- • obtaining commodity support for school breakfast programs,
- • petitioning Congress to give USDA the authority to review and monitor compliance with bids and contracts between local school districts and foodservice management companies.