Welcome to the 2016-2017 School Year!
MdSNA is a non-profit organization comprised of School Food Service Professionals in the state of Maryland. We are affiliated with the National School Nutrition Association which connects us to others across the nation with our same interest...
Child Nutrition Programs for all children.
How Did We Do
We would love your feedback on October's annual convention. Please let us know your thoughts AND by filling out our evaluation by December 1, you will be registered for a drawing for a free registration package for our 2017 convention.
USDA Releases First-Ever Web-Based School Meals Application Prototype
New Web Application Designed to Save Time, Money
FNS Office of the Chief Communications Officer
WASHINGTON, November 30, 2016 – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) introduced its first ever web-based school meals program application prototype to streamline the process of applying for school meals and improve the user experience. The prototype – which combines research-based best practices, feedback from application users, and innovative user-experience design solutions submitted via a USDA-administered public contest – is specifically designed to address common issues and minimize the potential for errors in the application process.
“After gathering extensive research and drawing upon a wide-variety of resources, USDA is excited to offer a web-based school meals application prototype that will improve the application experience for families and schools alike,” said Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. “This project is just one of many recent efforts that demonstrate USDA’s commitment to ensuring the integrity of the school meal programs.”
The web-based prototype is primarily intended to serve as a functional model representing best practices in web-based application design. States and schools may also choose to adapt it for their own use, and USDA strongly encourages software vendors that serve the school market to incorporate the prototype’s integrity features into their own products.
Previously, USDA provided a paper application prototype that schools and states can choose to adopt or adapt to best serve their needs. However, research shows that web-based applications can help reduce error rates by providing prompts and feedback to the applicant throughout the process. Therefore, as part of its commitment to enhancing integrity across all school meal programs, USDA developed a web-based application prototype as well.
Earlier this year, USDA hosted a public contest to solicit design concepts for an open source web-based school meal application prototype. Drawing on the innovative strategies submitted, USDA partnered with a talented team of private-sector technologists through the Presidential Innovation Fellows program to create an official web-based prototype application. The resulting streamlined prototype is now available on the FNS website. For more information on the web-based prototype application, register for a webinar hosted by USDA on Dec. 15, 2016.
In total, nearly 100,000 schools and institutions serve more than 30 million children through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and over 14 million children through the School Breakfast Program (SBP). Many children receive their meals at no cost or for a reduced price through income-based eligibility. These students rely on school meals as a vital part of their daily nutrition, allowing them to thrive in the classroom and beyond.
The new web-based prototype is just one of several major steps USDA has taken to reduce errors and enhance integrity. USDA recently overhauled its paper application prototype, working with the innovation Lab @ OPM to combine the best elements of applications already in use around the country with that latest research on human centered design. USDA also promotes the use of direct certification, a process which relies on existing sources of information to certify eligible children for free school meals without the need for a household application, thereby reducing the possibility of errors. Errors could lead to improper payments, which present a risk to children who are eligible for assistance. This new prototype application leverages technology and makes it easier for all concerned.
The school meals programs – NSLP and SBP – are just two of the 15 nutrition assistance programs administered by FNS. Others include, but are not limited to, the Child and Adult Care Food Program; the Summer Food Service Program; the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
USDA has worked to strengthen its core nutrition programs that support the nation’s vulnerable populations while, at the same time, putting in place strategies that improve the nutritional quality of the foods we provide. Since 2009, 7.9 million fewer people are struggling to provide enough food for themselves or household members and food insecurity for children is at the lowest level on record. USDA has led the effort to implement the historic Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which ensures that more than 50 million children have a healthier food environment at school. Read more about USDA’s work to improve nutrition under this Administration at Growing a Healthier Future: Improving Nutrition and Access to Healthy Food for Americans.
SNA Leaders Meet with Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Roberts On CNR
SNA representatives met with the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair to discuss the status of Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) in the current 114th Congress. They also discussed how the Association could chart a course to work together to identify opportunities for moving forward with the new Trump Administration and new 115th Congress. Present at the meeting were, SNA President Becky Domokos-Bays, SNA Public Policy & Legislation (PPL) Committee Chair Doug Davis, SNA Chief Executive Officer Patricia Montague, SNA-KS Public Policy & Legislation (PPL) Chair Cindy Jones, Cathy Schuchart, SNA SVP Government Affairs and Media Relations, and Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Pat Roberts (R-KS).
Chairman Roberts thanked SNA for its continued assistance to “carry the banner as we try to get across the finish line” with Child Nutrition Reauthorization. Although the Chairman noted they are still working to get Child Nutrition Reauthorization addressed during the remaining days of the lame duck, he stated that he is committed to helping SNA during the next Administration and with the soon-to-be-named U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary on seeking solutions to ensure strong child nutrition programs.
On the issue of sodium, SNA President Domokos-Bays shared her concerns about the upcoming implementation date of the Target 2 sodium reductions and how this continues to be a priority issue of the Association. Sen. Roberts understood and responded by stating “we need a permanent fix.”
The group also discussed Block Grants and the danger these could cause if enacted. Sen. Roberts understood SNA’s concerns and harkened back to the surfacing of Block Grants more than 25 years ago under the Contract with America. He stated “we were successful then, against some pretty tough odds.”
SNA-KS PPL Chair Cindy Jones and SNA PPL Chair Doug Davis shared their concerns on the financial aspects of the Block Grant issue, as well as the importance of maintaining a strong nutritional safety net for America’s students.
The lame duck session is scheduled to conclude by mid-December. SNA’s Public Policy & Legislation Committee will be meeting on February 15-16, 2017, to draft the Association’s 2017 Position Paper.
Updates on Appropriations and CNR
Based on various contacts with Committee staff and other reports, it now appears most likely that the Congress will take up a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the federal government through March 31, 2017. This means that the next Congress and the new Trump Administration will be able to provide their revised priorities for the balance of the current fiscal year, along with a new budget request for FY 2018 sometime between mid-February and mid-March.
Should this second CR move ahead, the feeling is that the Congress is likely to adjourn for the year earlier than the previously announced December 15th adjournment. While there is still some hope of getting Child Nutrition Reauthorization completed, the practical view is that it will be unlikely that the bill will be completed this year, again in part because some believe that the next Congress and the new Administration may be more amenable to more reforms in these programs, e.g. limitations and perhaps Block Grants.
Congress will be in recess for Thanksgiving week, so little is expected to be announced before then.
Nominations for Consideration of USDA Appointees
As the Trump Administration develops, SNA will be putting forth names for consideration. An opportunity now exists for you to play a role in this very important process.
In October, the Public Policy & Legislation Committee (PPL), under the direction of the SNA Board of Directors, voted to create an Ad Hoc Committee to identify, select, and nominate individuals for consideration by President-elect Trump as appointees to USDA. This Committee will be making nominations for four high-level positions within the USDA. Those positions are Under Secretary, Deputy Under Secretary, FNS Administrator and FNS Associate Administrator.
Read more details on the process, including how to submit your application.
Michael Torrey Steps Down from Trump’s Agriculture Transition Team
Up until Friday, Michael Torrey was in charge of leading Trump’s agriculture transition team. Torrey is a well-known lobbyist in D.C who is founder of the agriculture-focused government relations firm Michael Torrey Associates and represents clients such as Little Caesars, the American Beverage Association, and the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau.
Torrey was assigned the position when Chris Christie was leading Trump’s transition team, but now that Vice President-elect Mike Pence has taken over and instituted a code of ethics that requires anyone working for the Administration to drop their lobbying registration, Torrey has decided to step down.
"I — along with the entire team at Michael Torrey Associates — remain committed to serving our clients with integrity," Torrey said. "I am very grateful to the transition effort to have been asked to provide counsel, and it has been an honor to do my small part during this critical time of transition for our nation."
The Trump Administration is expected to name his Department of Agriculture landing team this week.
Registration is now open for SNA’s first virtual expo!
This FREE expo will be accessible to SNA members from January 31 through April 30, 2017. The first three days, January 31- February 2will be “live days” where exhibitors will answer questions in real time through the live chat option. One of the many great features of this expo is that you will have access to exhibit booths and education sessions 24/7. Plus, going virtual allows you to visit as often as you would like from the comfort of your own computer.
Learn more and register for the Expo: www.schoolnutrition.org/virtualexpo.
Win a Trip to LAC 2017
SNA’s annual Legislative Action Conference Sweepstakes is back! The winner will enjoy FREE registration for LAC 2017, flights and accommodations for themselves and a guest, as well as be recognized during the Opening General Session. SNA will also reserve a VIP table for the winner and guest at the conference.
This year’s contest is all about getting creative – something we know school nutrition professionals do every day. Send us a patriotic picture of yourself in a fun costume such as Rosie the Riveter or Uncle Sam! It is almost Halloween, but your entry doesn’t have to feature a costume. Send in your Federal Election, or Veterans day themed photos, your USA-themed menu items, and of course pictures of your elected officials touring a school cafeteria are always encouraged and welcome. We want to show the world that school nutrition professionals make a difference by speaking up and participating in our Democracy.