To the Editor…

by on February 19, 2015

In her Feb. 17th article “School Nutrition Assn Defies Common Sense,” Dana Woldow demonstrates a clear intent to disregard facts and discredit valid data pertaining to the operation of school meal programs under new national nutrition standards.

Despite a Feb. 10 letter to the editor detailing Ms. Woldow’s inaccurate interpretation of SNA research, she reiterates the same false claims in her Feb. 17 article. The complexities of this issue understandably cause confusion, but blatant disregard of accuracy for the sake of trying to advance an argument is unacceptable.

 

In the SNA survey cited by Ms. Woldow, the number of responses resulted in a margin of error that is statistically-reflective of SNA’s 55,000 members.  Furthermore, the number of respondents is comparable to response rates in other research in this field.

 

SNA’s findings echo concerns raised by school administration leaders in a recent National School Boards Association survey, citing increased costs and plate waste and declining participation under the new standards. Ms. Woldow may choose to disregard these surveys, but there is no denying the cost of the regulations.  The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates the new rules will cost meal programs $1.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2015 alone. Coupled with declining student lunch participation under the rules, schools are left with even less revenue to manage higher costs. It should come as no surprise that many school meal programs are now financially compromised.

 

Outside of surveys, SNA collects input on an ongoing basis from members in school meal operations through committees, state affiliates, regional representatives and comment blogs. It’s an insult for Ms. Woldow to suggest that the input of SNA members who manage school cafeteria operations or serve students should be considered less relevant to the discussion on the viability of meal programs under the new standards. These members are on the front lines every day, doing their best to help students make healthy choices, and their voices need to be considered.

 

Nutrition advocates and policymakers need to be aware that some of the new regulations have resulted in unintended consequences that now risk crippling the very school meal programs they intended to strengthen. The additional funding and common sense changes SNA is requesting under the rules will protect school meal programs and help students adjust to and accept healthy changes.

 

Diane Pratt-Heavner

School Nutrition Association

Filed under: Letters to the Editor

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