As the costs of providing nutritionally sound school lunches has increased, a new effort is underway to have schools lobby Congress for increased nutritional funding.
In Hall County Georgia, Cheryl Jones, the school nutrition director visited Washington to lobby for funding to ensure financial solvency of student meal progams. She returned home unsure of its passage this year.
The new standards from the US Department of Agriculture have increased costs to local school districts nationally by about $3 billion.
According to Jones, these changes limit opportunities to expand the existing programs to new students. The Georgia Food Bank Association estimates that one in five residents of the state of Georgia are “food insecure”. The importance of local school districts filling that gap cannot be overstated. 59 percent of Hall County School District students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch. In Gainesville City Schools, all students are offered one meal a day at no cost. Hall County also receives the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program grant which sustains programs in several schools with high risk students.
Jones and other school professionals attended an annual conference in Washington to support the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act.
“It’s always a great opportunity to meet with our legislators,” Jones said. “(They) understand the cost and time that manufacturers have already invested in product reformulation to meet current nutrition standards.”