K-12 Blog

June 2014 “Myth vs. Fact”

Posted: July 11, 2014

A Message from Your Industry Representative

What an amazing and important time we are living in. I hope you have all been following the activity that has been going on in Washington, D.C. pertaining to our K-12 World. The operative word there is following, because understanding is a whole other subject. It becomes difficult at times to understand the facts from the spin when you read the articles currently available in the press on the issues. SNA has done a tremendous job keeping us all informed of the facts, specifically the, ”Myth vs. Fact” press release that came out on May 22nd.

SNA’s requests are very clear and to the point:

1. Retain the current requirement that 50% of grains offered for lunch and breakfast be whole grain rich rather than further increasing the requirement to 100%.
2. Retain the July 1, 2014 Target 1 sodium levels, and suspend implementation of further reduction of sodium levels unless and until scientific research supports such reductions for children.
3. Retain requirements to offer a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but eliminate the mandate that students must take a fruit or vegetable with meals.
4. Require USDA to allow any food item permitted to be served as part of a reimbursable meal to be sold at any time as an a la carte item.
5. SNA also supports language in the House version of the Fiscal Year 2015 Agriculture Appropriation Bill to give school meal programs, operating at a net loss for at least 6 months, the opportunity to apply for a temporary, one-year waiver as they work to meet costly meal pattern requirements.

The spin that has been put out in reaction to these requests is that, “we want to gut the program.” I do not see that motivation behind our request, nor would the outcome of our request lead to that conclusion. We need for those school foodservice programs that are struggling to get the help and relief necessary for their programs to function. I know there are many schools out there that are doing well, and I applaud them for doing so. I also encourage them to continue to reach over the fence and help their neighboring districts that may not be in the same situation.

All lunch programs are not created equal. If you have high free and reduced, you probably have less issues than those with low free and reduced. However, we should always remember that we are one community feeding the children of America. We must work together.

The thing that amazes me the most is the twisting of the facts that is currently taking place, along with the insertion of facts that are irrelevant to the issues at hand. Washington, D.C. operates with a unique set of rules, as do some of the media outlets out there, which makes it hard to understand the process taking place. At the same time, we hear statements like, “SNA does not care about the kids” or, “Industry is driving [these requests]”. Such statements could not be further from the truth.

It is a shame that intelligent people faced with serious issues are not able to work together. The daily rhetoric available on the evening news is just one example of a broken system filled with so much negativity and mistrust.

It is industry’s role to stay focused on supporting our Foodservice Directors and the needs of the children across America.

The Annual National Conference (ANC) is just a month away, and I am sure this frenzy will continue through that period of time. It is time for everyone to stay in tune with what is going on and educate yourselves about the issues. As I tell my team: keep your head down. When asked your opinion, stay with the facts as we know them. The, “Myth vs. Fact” is the only resource that you need. There is no need to debate this further; Congress will be doing plenty of that in the upcoming weeks. I would anticipate a lot of discussions at ANC concerning this, and that is why it is imperative that we are prepared with the facts.

Those stating that 90% of the schools are doing just fine are not accurate. The notion that Industry is driving these requests is not true. Claims perpetuated in the media that the amount of waste in the lunch program is no different than that of the past are incorrect. These messages are spun to divert everyone from the tasks at hand and only add to the confusion out there.

In closing, SNA appreciates the efforts and commitment that Industry has shown over the last few years in dealing with all these changes. Your ability to provide new, nutritionally sound menu solutions has been critical to help meet the needs of our children. Thanks for all you do!

See you in Boston!

Gary D. Vonck
KeyImpact Sales & Systems
SNA Industry Representative

Published in – Industry Insider: News from SchoolNutrition.org Vol. 12, No. 6 – June 12, 2014

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.