HARRISBURG, AR (KAIT) - Region 8 school food employees traveled with other members of the School Nutrition Association to Washington, D.C. to ask for more flexibility in school nutrition programs implemented as a result of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010.
The women who made the trip to speak before the Arkansas Congressional Delegation were Carol Gean from West Memphis, Deanna Gilbert with Hope Schools, Carol Godfrey from Springdale School District, Susan Madison from Marion School District, Dawn Ragsdale from Nettleton School District, Debbie Stewart from Alma School District and Dolores Sutterfield from Harrisburg Public Schools.
"SNA has decided to take a stand and see if we could get USDA to loosen up just a little for a year or two, maybe to give us breathing room to get the kids to accept what we've already tried to get them to accept," said Sutterfield. "In Arkansas last year it impacted us. Over two million lunches is what we lost in children not accepting the new regulations."
SNA is national organization made up of 55,000 school food professionals. Sutterfield is on the SNA committee for public policy and legislation.
"We took a variety of sizes of school districts and we took a variety of student population as far as free and reduced children and it was the same everywhere."
Before the next round of the regulations begin July 2014, Sutterfield said the group wanted legislators to know what school food employees have seen over the past four years, the "unintended consequences" of the new standards, such as plate waste and a lack of suitable food.
"We can't find good products. The manufacturers have not caught up with where we need to be with the new meal patterns."
"We're just asking please let us work with our kids with what we're doing right now. We feel like we're on the right path we just don't have our kids there yet."
The House Appropriations Committee voted to keep the language in a bill that will give schools operating at a net loss for at least six months, the opportunity to apply for a temporary, one-year waiver as they work to meet the federal requirements.