Breaking News


Reimbursement Rates and Value of Donated Foods

USDA has released new reimbursement rates for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Special Milk Program and Afterschool Care Programs. The rates were published in today’s Federal Register. Reimbursement rates for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) are also available.

A third notice published today announces the value of donated foods, specifically the national average value of donated foods or, where applicable, cash in lieu of donated foods for each lunch served by schools participating in the NSLP and for each lunch and supper served by institutions participating in the CACFP.

The new rates and value of donated foods apply to School Year 2017-18 and are effective July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018.


For Immediate Release: July 17, 2017

Harford County Public Schools Food and Nutrition Director Earns National Recognition

Gary Childress, supervisor of food and nutrition for Harford County Public Schools and current president of the Maryland School Nutrition Association, is in the national school nutrition spotlight for earning the President’s Award of Excellence from the School Nutrition Association (SNA).

The President’s Award of Excellence recognizes up to three state presidents each year who demonstrate extraordinary leadership by successfully implementing strategies that advance school nutrition programs in their states and who made the extra effort in achieving excellence in SNA’s strategic goals. Strategies covered areas from legislative action, membership goals, and staff professional development to community outreach. Mr. Childress received this national honor during an awards ceremony at SNA’s 71st Annual National Conference, which was held July 9-12, 2017, at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. This one-of-a-kind conference united more than 6,000 attendees from school nutrition, industry and allied organizations, for an unparalleled networking and educational

“This was truly a team effort, as Maryland had a great day at the opening session of the School Nutrition Association’s annual convention,” said Mr. Childress. “Our state had the National Employee of the Year and National Manager of the Year along with this award. We are so proud of what has been accomplished this year and are looking forward to continued success and recognition of the hardworking, dedicated school nutrition employees in Maryland. These
people deserve to be acknowledged as they care deeply about the students they serve.” In order to provide equal opportunity for states of different sizes, the President’s Award of Excellence may be awarded to one state president in each of the three member divisions: 1-500 Member Division; 501-1000 Member Division; and 1001+ Member Division.
Mr. Childress won for the 501-1000 Member Division.

“I am extremely proud of Mr. Childress,” said Superintendent of Schools Barbara P. Canavan. “He is dedicated to the students of Harford County. He provides outstanding leadership to the Office of Food and Nutrition as they strive to provide healthy meals to our children throughout the school year. Mr. Childress is undoubtedly worthy of this recognition.”


Trump Administration, USDA Names New Leadership

U.S Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced on Wednesday, July 19, the names of three new individuals who will be taking leadership roles within the U.S Department of Agriculture. Brandon Lipps will serve as the Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), while also serving as Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Food and Nutrition Consumer Services (FNCS) until a permanent appointee is nominated by the president and approved by the Senate. Previously, Lipps worked for the Texas Tech University System as the Chief of Staff and Director of Federal Affairs in the Office of Chancellor Robert Duncan, served as counsel and senior professional staff to the U.S House Committee on Agriculture, and held various positions under Chancellor Duncan while he served as Texas State Senator.

Maggie Lyons will serve as Chief of Staff and senior advisor to the Under Secretary. Before joining the USDA, Lyons was the Senior Government Relations Director for the National Grocers Association (NGA) and worked on Capitol Hill in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Lastly, Kailee Tkacz will serve as policy advisor to the Under Secretary. Her work experience includes serving as the Director of Food Policy for the Corn Refiners Association (CRA), Director of Government Affairs for the Snack Food Association and Government Affairs Manager for the National Grocers Association.

Regarding the staffing announcements, Secretary Perdue issued this statement:

“The health and nutrition programs administered by USDA play a tremendous role in the Administration’s efforts to improve education and job readiness. I have no doubt that Brandon, Maggie, and Kailee will help further our mission of feeding the world and making decisions in our nutrition programs that are science-based and data-driven. I welcome Brandon, Maggie, and Kailee to the USDA family and I thank them for their desire to serve this nation.”

Also on Wednesday, the White House sent the Senate Agriculture committee its official notice of intent to nominate Stephen Censky for USDA Deputy Secretary. Censky previously served at USDA in both the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and worked on the 1990 farm bill. He most recently served as the American Soybean Association’s Chief Executive Officer for 21 years. You can view an organizational chart of these positions and others within USDA on the USDA website.


Revised Prototype Free and Reduced Price Application for SY 2017-18

The USDA released a policy memo on May 3, 2017, announcing their Revised Prototype Application for Free and Reduced Price Meals for SY 2017-2018. In SY 2016-2017 the USDA Office of Civil Rights received 1,700 of these applications in error, as they were actually intended for local officials who make eligibility determinations, and not complaints of discrimination. The applications were forwarded by USDA to the appropriate State and local agencies, and in an effort to make sure the applications go to the right place this year, minor design changes were made in the Prototype Application for Free and Reduced Price School Meals. FNS has added, to both the heading of Step 4 of the prototype application and Step 4 in the instructions, a field for program operators to include a mailing address where households may send completed applications. These headings are added to provide additional clarity on where to send the applications, and although inclusion of these elements on application forms developed by State agencies and LEAs is optional, it is encouraged. Attached to the memorandum are the application instructions, a Word version of the application, and a PDF version of the application.


6.29.2017 Federal Register: APEC III, Improper Payments Study

The proposed APEC III study will provide FNS with the information needed to reduce improper payments in school meals programs. The study will survey a nationally representative sample of School Food Authorities (SFAs), a sample of schools within each SFA, and a random sample of students within each school that applied or were directly certified for free and reduced-price meals. The data will be used to develop national estimates of the annual error rates and erroneous payments for the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program in school year 2017-18 and to identify strategies for reducing errors. Comments on this record collection can be sent to Desk Officer for Agriculture, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget (OMB),


Senators Collins and Heitkamp Reintroduce “School Food Modernization Act”

On Thursday, June 21, 2017, Senator Collins reintroduced the “  School Food Modernization Act,” or S. 1402, on behalf of her and Senator Heitkamp. The bill requires the Secretary of Agriculture to make loan guarantees and grants to finance certain improvement to school lunch facilities, train school foodservice professionals, and for other purposes. These improvements can include remodeling, purchasing durable equipment, and expanding the infrastructure of the school lunch program that will provide healthy meals. The loan guarantees and the equipment grants will be awarded on a competitive basis and up to the discretion of the Secretary of Agriculture, though certain eligible entities will have priority. S. 1402 goes on to outline fees, funding, and Federal share breakdowns for these programs, as well as for the training and technical assistance for school food service personnel. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.


"Nutrition Coordinators for Local Healthy Youth Act" Introduced

On Wednesday, June 20, 2017, Rep. Tim Ryan introduced H.R. 2967, or the “Nutrition Coordinators for Local Healthy Youth Act,” which was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The bill amended the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 to establish a grant program to appoint nutrition coordinators to oversee local school nutrition policies in local education agencies. The Secretary of Agriculture, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, will select local education agencies to receive the grants, based on the applications that they submit, which are up to the Secretary to design. The coordinator role is to ensure compliance with local school wellness policies, conduct trainings and information sharing of best practices and to collaborate with other coordinators.