BCS Nutrition Director attends Legislative Action Conference

Published 2:06 pm Monday, March 11, 2024

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Joanne Kirven, Director of School Nutrition for Beaufort County Schools, with support from the Gene Causby Memorial Scholarship, recently attended the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) annual Legislative Action Conference (LAC) in Washington, D.C., March 3 – 5. The conference brought together more than 800 school nutrition professionals from across the country to engage with Congress on critical issues related to school meals.

Beyond the conference, Kirven was one of 60 selected for an esteemed leadership program at Georgetown University, a testament to her commitment and expertise.

During LAC, Kirven had the opportunity to meet with Congressional aides for both Rep. Greg Murphy and Rep. Kathy Manning of North Carolina. These meetings served as a forum to articulate the daily challenges faced by school nutrition programs and to underscore the importance of sustained support from policymakers.

“As schools face critical long-term economic, procurement and regulatory challenges, we need Congress’ support to ensure the sustainability of these critical school meal programs,” said Kirven.

Kirven emphasized the importance of permanent funding increases for school meals, the preservation of current nutrition standards and equal access to free, healthy school meals for every student. The School Nutrition Trends Survey conducted by SNA in 2024 revealed that school meal program directors across the nation face challenges, with 99.3% citing increasing costs.

In her advocacy, Kirven stressed the critical role Congress plays in addressing these financial constraints that impact the ability to provide nutritious meals for students.

“We can’t deny a hungry child a meal, but where is the money coming from for that? Because we haven’t got any,” said Kirven, highlighting the struggles.

Reflecting on the experience, Kirven acknowledged the uphill battle but stressed the significance of raising awareness.

“It’s important that people hear it and hear the message from the grassroots level,” shared Kirven. “We have a group of really hardworking people working in school nutrition, people that care about other people’s children. And they give their time and their efforts, and in some cases, sometimes their money too.”

As Kirven continues to champion the cause, her efforts exemplify the commitment to ensuring every child has access to nutritious meals, setting a strong foundation for their overall well-being and academic success.