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ACSA, CSBA Recommendations on National School Lunch Act Delivered to Congress

October 1, 2015

The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA)-California School Boards Association (CSBA) Federal Partnership has submitted a letter to leading Congressional representatives expressing the group’s recommendations and priorities for the reauthorization of the National School Lunch Act.

The group recommended a maintained expansion with a simplification of the direct certification process, the automatic certification of foster children, and the establishment of community eligibility. The partnership noted that these have enabled schools to serve more students with nutrition needs and, at the same time, have lessened the application and enrollment burdens put on school staff and parents.

Another area covered was equity in school lunch pricing. By requiring schools to assess and address gaps in the price students are charged for paid meals relative to free and paid meal reimbursement rates, and setting revenue expectations for non-reimbursable foods sold at schools, increases program transparency and efficiency.

Specific recommendations include the following:

  1. Maintain the authority granted to USDA regarding the establishment of nutritional standards for all foods sold in schools, while establishing clear expectations for easing administrative burdens and maximizing program flexibility and efficiency. The complexity of current regulations and program requirements often hinder local efforts to serve our most needy students.
  2. Require targets for sodium level reductions and whole grain offerings that reflect best practice as well as the lessons learned about regional food preferences, reasonable transition timelines, and other challenges.
  3. Expand efforts to ensure the financial sustainability of school meal programs, including through further increases in the per meal reimbursement rate. ACSA-CSBA join the School Nutrition Association in calling for at least a minimum of a 35 cent increase in the reimbursement rate.
  4. Help schools and districts reduce program waste and costs, both of which have significantly increased under the Act, by increasing local flexibility in setting policies that currently require students to take a fruit or vegetable with each meal and dispose of it if not consumed during lunch, limiting the ability of schools to make these and other healthy food options available to students throughout the school day.

Source:  Association of California School Administrators

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