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House committee passes 'Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act'

KIDDOS Everyone from Top Cheffers to Jamie Oliver to Michelle Obama agrees that our nation's school lunch program is hungry for change. And it's no wonder such prominent figures are ready for the next course of action, given that 1 in 5 children are obese or overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Thursday the "Improving Nutrition for America's Children Act"  was passed by the House Education and Labor Committee, bringing the nation's kids one bite closer to the possibility of more nutritious meals.

The act aims to improve access to school lunch programs, help schools improve the quality of meals by adding a 6-cent-per-child increase in budget, encourage partnerships with local farms, allow unused food to be donated to food banks, increase access to healthful food outside school hours and improve food safety and integrity. (For a full rundown of the stipulations, click here.) It allots $8 billion over 10 years to achieve those goals, quite a bit more than the $4.5 billion proposed by the Senate Agriculture Committee's Child Nutrition Bill passed in March.

"From our view [the Improving Nutrition for America's Children Act] is really the best child nutrition bill that we've ever had. It includes stronger nutrition standards and grants for farm-to-school programs," says Gordon Jenkins, program manager at Slow Food USA. "The amount of funding however, is very modest at the $.06 addition to the current $2.68, which leaves only about $1 for ingredients. It won't be enough to make a significant change. That can be modified on the floor if Congress hears it's important enough."

Both bills have now reached the floor and need to be passed by their respective chambers and reconciled before they can become law. 

Jenkins says it's important that the debate be scheduled soon, though. School lunches will be on the back burner during the month of August since Congress is on recess, and the current bill expires in September. "Last year, they had to pass a temporary one-year extension, putting the schools' programs in status quo. The schools will be encouraged but will not have funding. What it really means is that the bill will have to be rewritten and reintroduced again."

Michelle Obama issued a statement urging the House and Senate to take their child nutrition bills to the floor and pass them without delay. "The President looks forward to signing a final bill this year, so that we can make significant progress in improving the nutrition and health of children across our nation.”

-- Krista Simmons

Photo: Kids at Larchmont Charter showing off their school garden-grown tomatoes. Credit: Krista Simmons


 
Comments () | Archives (4)

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Totally unrealistic. How are schools supposed to by healthy foods, and fresh fruits and veggies for an extra six cents per kid? Where can you buy a serving of fruits or veggie for six cents?

If the funding "...won't be enough to make a significant change", why in god's name approve it? If the already approved inadequate funding won't be modified on the floor of Congress (read "more spending still") the bill already approved does not get to be cancelled, leaving increased spending for something that will not meet the goals. How crazy is this? Only democrats can think of brilliant ways of reaching into our pockets "for the sake of children".

Couldn't agree more. My 4 year old wills start kindergarten next year, I plan to pack his lunches but I shudder to consider the choices offered older children who want to buy their lunch at school because it's "cool" and what their friends do. I sincerely hope once my son is that age there will be healthier choices offered in school and that he'll choose those foods. Of course it starts at home - teach your kids to love fruits and veggies! I've found starting our own garden has helped make my son more apt to eat fruits and vegetables he previously would have turned his nose up at; I also have him pick a healthy food from the grocery store that he's never tried before each week and we find a recipe which he helps me prepare - I've gotten him to like tofu this way!

Not a day too soon! This should have been done 2-3 decades ago! Why have we allowed salt, sugar, and fat to flood our schools and rob our children of their vitality, energy, and vigor? I applaud the principals, educators, and lawmakers who support the Improving Nutrition for America's Children Act! This issues needs more support and a great deal more funding. Let us consider taxing salty and sugar junk snacks and drinks to help pay for additional expansions to this program to save our children!!!!


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