Legislative Update January 2019

Posted by admin on 01/22/2019 2:39 pm  /   Legislative Updates

By: Sara Simmerman, Legislative Chair


The 2019 Legislative Action Conference will take place in Washington DC February 24th-26th.  Please consider joining the Michigan contingent – this conference is action packed and provides an essential platform for our children and association to be heard by policy-makers.  Whether or not you attend, please share your concerns, photos and updates from your district for us to take along with us.  Contact Sara Simmerman, [email protected], 248-684-8033; Kristen Hennessey, [email protected] or the SNAM office at [email protected] or 517-327-5933. We would love to hear from you!

In this update:


“MDE School Nutrition programs should continue to conduct “business as usual” per Dr. Diane Golzynski, Director of the Office of Health and Nutrition Services and the State Child Nutrition Director at the Michigan Department of Education. 

Updated 1/22/2019 – USDA Food & Nutrition Services has provided state agencies with additional available appropriated funding that will support program operations at normal levels through the month of March.  How can we make our funds go farther?  Continue to offer instead of serve.  Every component must be served which is more costly and wasteful than offer.  Remember, High Schools must “serve”.  Ala carte revenue will continue to be an important contribution to our bottom line.

  • States are starting to distribute February SNAP benefits this week. Recipients will need to make them last – over 40 days.  Our programs will be more important than ever to help bridge the potential gap SNAP families may experience.
  • Sonny Perdue has said that his agency’s food safety work will not be disrupted. Officials are planning to expand their daily food safety work amid the continued lapse in appropriations.
  • Free & Reduced Meal Benefits for government employees affected by the recent Government shutdown. From Lori Adkins “School districts should urge any families who are approved for free or reduced-price meals based on their reduced income during a furlough period to terminate their free/reduced price status should the economic hardship they had anticipated due to the furlough be remedied by a return to work and/or restoration of pay for the furlough period”.  From Heather Holland, MDE Analyst “My interpretation of this is that they can apply and that they should be reminded that once the hardship has ended, they should request that their benefits be terminated. Let MDE know if you have any further questions on this.


  1. Continue and increase USDA Foods commodities support for the School Breakfast Program. The 2019 Agriculture Appropriations Bill passed on 1/10/2019 (HR 265) contains $20 million for breakfast commodities and funds USDA and FDA for 2019.
  2. Support USDA’s ongoing effort to simplify child nutrition programs by returning to the 5-year Administrative Review cycle and modifying Smart Snacks in School to allow all menu items to be sold at anything a la carte.
  3. USDA and US Dept. of Ed to work with SFA’s to develop best practices and policies to ensure student schedules provide students with adequate time to eat healthy school meals.
  4. Oppose any effort to black grant school meal programs.


Our Child Nutrition Reauthorization has not been renewed since the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids act which expired on September 20th, 2015.  Congress has an opportunity every five years to improve and strengthen child nutrition meal programs.  This appears not to be a high priority.  The Senate Agriculture Committee and the House Education & Workforce Committee voted the Bill out of Committee January 2016 and May 2016 respectively.  Here is what did occur – and a vote was never scheduled.

In January, the Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously approved the bipartisan Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016, which reauthorizes child nutrition programs for another five years. The bill now heads to the Senate floor; a vote for the bill has not been scheduled. Meanwhile, House Republicans released a Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill on April 20, with committee markup expected in the coming weeks. Anti-hunger advocates are very concerned about the proposed House bill and are working with Hill staff to strengthen the legislation.

No new updates were available at this time.


APPROVED 12/8/2018

The Child Nutrition Programs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements final rule offers schools new options as they serve meals under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP) and other federal child nutrition programs. The rule:

The Child Nutrition Programs: Flexibilities for Milk, Whole Grains, and Sodium Requirements final rule offers schools new options as they serve meals under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP) and other federal child nutrition programs. The rule:

  • Provides the option to offer flavored, low-fat milk to children participating in school meal programs, and to participants ages six and older in the Special Milk Program for Children (SMP) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP);
  • Requires half of the weekly grains in the school lunch and breakfast menu be whole grain-rich; and
  • Provides more time to reduce sodium levels in school meals.


PASSED 12/11/2018

The Farm Bill was passed by the US Senate by an 87-13 margin.  There were no cuts to SNAP Benefits.  Congress left this out of the bill; however it is not binding the White House on cuts or work requirements.

FRAC writes “The Administration now proposes to politicize the process at the state level, reduce the ability of states to follow Congress’ intent, and arbitrarily narrow states’ ability to waive the time limit in areas with insufficient jobs. Its action flies in the face of congressional intent, coming just days after Congress passed a new Farm Bill that left the current area waiver provisions in place. The Administration’s release of its proposed rule sends struggling people a cruel message this holiday season — not one of hope and goodwill, but one of greater hunger and hardship if the rule is adopted”.


Senate Bill 1078, introduced by State Senator Jim Ananich, titled the Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights Act would require school districts to serve a reimbursable to students with meal debt or who cannot pay for a meal.  This bill was reintroduced on 9/22/2018 and referred to the Senate Committee on Education.

  • The District of Columbia, Pennsylvania and Denver, have all shared their challenges with unpaid meal bills. They both passed similar legislation requiring that a meal be served to all students who request one and also prohibited actions that would identify or stigmatize students with meal debt.  Since the law went into effect, Bethlehem’s meal debt increased 50% to $154,590.  These results mirror other districts across the nation, including those in Denver, were meal debt rose to $356,000 after the district adopted a similar policy.  Washington DC’s student debt is now over $500,000.  Since 2017, unpaid meals legislation has been introduced in 27 states. 75% of US School Districts have unpaid student meal debt.
  • It is important to remember that local school districts in Michigan, working with their communities, have been able to independently resolve meal debt charges. We are all required to have a meal debt procedure in place.  Consider contacting your legislator to discuss maintaining local control of school meal debt so that any action can be customized to your own district’s specific needs.  If you require help with or would like to discuss your meal debt procedure, please contact your Area Representative or any of your SNAM Board members.
  • Comments from the Washtenaw County Food Policy Council: “This legislation is too restrictive and removes the ability for the SFA to locally control the process.  The more communication surrounding meal charging with everyone involved the better.  However, it could be appropriate to minimize communication with the youngest grade levels (K-2nd)…This type of legislation would be detrimental to the SFA’s financials (both general fund and NSFSA), encourages debt at the district’s expense and takes away the district’s local control”.


  • Even with changes in the House, we want to remain vigilant concerning Block Grants. However, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Todd Rokita, was defeated by Jim Baird in the Indiana Primary and is no longer a member of the house.  The Committee Chairman, John Kline of Minnesota, is also a former US Representative.
  • This measure would allow a trial period of so-called block grants for school meals in three states — meaning those states would no longer receive unlimited federal dollars for students who qualify for the free and reduced-price lunches, and states wouldn't have to follow most federal nutrition standards. Proponents of the bill believe the changes would help redirect money to other programs while ensuring that those with the highest need are still guaranteed meals.

    For a short, informational You Tube video concerning Block Grants go to  Stop the Block.  Preserve School Meals.



  1. Comment on Program Simplification
  2. Comment on the Administrative Review
  3. Sign up for Tuesday Morning
  4. Sign up for SNA Express

  1. Legislator to Lunch
  2. Know your Local Representatives -
  3. Know your US Congress and State Representatives
  4. Know your SNAM area representatives


A Donation to SNA Pac, even a small one ($5.00)

  • Will educate members of Congress about Child Nutrition programs.
  • Thank members who continue to support our program
  • Donate to PAC and volunteer to become a State Ambassador – Carolyn Thomas is our current ambassador
  • Contributions are made in a bipartisan manner

2019 SNA Elections

SNAM's very own Lori Adkins is running for Vice President for the School Nutrition Association (SNA) in this February’s election.

The SNA Election will take place over a two-week period from February 15-28, 2019. Be sure that your email is up to date with SNA to receive the information about voting.  

Lori is asking for your support & your vote. This year, all SNA/SNAM members will receive an email on February 15th with a voting link. To cast your vote, members will click on the link to verify their membership ID and then send their vote electronically.