K-12 Blog

March 2013 41st Legislative Action Conference (LAC) – DC

Posted: March 15, 2013

A Message from Your Industry Representative

Dear Industry and Patron Members –
Wow, what a great Legislative Action Conference (LAC)! For those of you who attended SNA’s 41st LAC, I hope you felt the energy and commitment from SNA and the all members. This is truly a “new era.”

The Industry Thought Exchange on the proposed competitive foods regulations, held Sunday, March 3, was only the start. SNA and its Competitive Foods Task Force need your concerns, thoughts and ideas. The more of us who come together with one collective voice the better chances we have of seeing final regulations that are satisfactory. So, please forward your comments to Cathy Schuchart, SNA’s Staff Vice President of Child Nutrition and Policy, cschuchart@schoolnutrition.org, as soon as possible.

I thought our Industry Forum panelists (June Barrett, SNS, program coordinator for Child Nutrition Programs at the Alabama State Department of Education; Colleen Fillmore, PhD, RD, LD, SNS, USDA Idaho child nutrition director for the Idaho Department of Education; Kathleen Millett, director for Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education; Jonathan Dickl, SNS, director of school nutrition, Knox County Schools, Knoxville, Tennessee; Gitta Grether- Sweeney, district director, Portland School District, Portland, Oregon; and Elizabeth Wallace, SNS, director of food and nutrition services, Cherry Creek Schools, Englewood, Colorado) did an amazing job sharing their wide-open candor of the real story of the meal pattern. I hope USDA took copious notes of their disclosures related to decreased ADP, increased costs and stories of programs running in the red and being challenged to raise prices but not wanting to chase paying students from the program. We all must continue to come together to fight for what our members so desperately need, and we have more work to do on this front.

On Tuesday, March 5, I think we all made great strides as we converged on Capitol Hill and engaged our representatives and senators on the four solid points on this year’s Legislative Issue Paper. It appears that S. 427, known as the “Sensible School Lunch Act” and recently introduced bill by Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND) and Mark Pryor (D-AR), has some strong support from both sides of the aisle, with great potential of a similar bill coming out of the House. The bill supports a more relaxed set of USDA nutrition guidelines for students’ breakfasts and lunches, especially as they relate to meat and grain servings. More information will be shared on this when it becomes available.

On Tuesday night, LAC participants attended a reception on Capitol Hill. Congressional staff were invited to attend, and we had many legislators and their aides show up, with a few making some very strong statements of support.

The support continued on Wednesday morning, March 6, as we heard some very insightful input regarding child nutrition and ending child hunger from Sens. Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Hoeven and Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH).

Now that LAC is behind us, it’s time to act. As you finish this newsletter, please take a moment to send your comments to SNA on the proposed competitive foods guidelines. Make sure your voice is heard! Let’s get this right the first time for all of our sakes, especially the children’s.

Have a great day, and please let me know how I can better represent you.

Gary Vonck
KeyImpact Sales & Systems
SNA Industry Representative

Published in – Industry Insider: News from SchoolNutrition.org Vol. 11, No. 3 – Mar. 15, 2013

About the Author:


Gary Vonck

VP - Education Division

Gary Vonck has been with KeyImpact since 2007, adding to an impressive 40-year foodservice career. His knowledge and passion for child nutrition are unsurpassed. Gary oversees the Education Division, which includes sales, bid, and commodity teams across the entire nation.

Gary is an active member of the SNA and was the first and only broker/agency representative on the School Nutrition Association’s Industry Advisory Board, as the appointed Industry Representative, in 2008 and again 2014. Gary has also served on numerous SNA Task Forces and co-chaired several SNA events. Gary was also on the NSFMI national advisory council. In January 2013, Gary was awarded the Silver Friend of Child Nutrition FAME Award.

Gary Vonck is based in Illinois and can be reached at gvonck@kisales.com.