Children’s Advocates Urge House to Protect Child Nutrition
Washington – The First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, sent a letter today urging members of the U.S. House of Representatives to reject provisions of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (colloquially, the House “Farm Bill”) that weaken investments in child nutrition.
“Yes, the federal government has budget problems, but hungry kids didn’t cause them, and cutting anti-hunger investments is the wrong way to solve them,” said First Focus Campaign for Children President Bruce Lesley.
The legislation cuts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps) by nearly $21 billion over 10 years. Forty-seven percent of SNAP funding goes to children.
“It’s simple math – nearly half of every SNAP dollar goes to children, so the House Farm Bill would take food away from hungry kids,” said Lesley.
The bill also cuts funding for the SNAP-Education program. This initiative, commonly referred to as “SNAP-Ed,” funds local schools’ efforts to inform kids about healthy food choices and the benefits of healthy eating. SNAP- Ed also helps parents learn how to buy and prepare healthy foods and get the most nutritional value for every SNAP dollar.
“A Congress serious about fighting child hunger and curbing the childhood obesity epidemic would never cut SNAP-Ed,” said Lesley.
The legislation would also weaken the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP). FFVP provides funding to help local schools make fresh produce available to children in low-income communities, but the bill would make dried, canned, and frozen produce – including products with added sugar, salt, or other additives – eligible for FFVP funding.
“Politicians and agribusiness lobbyists can’t fool the American people – pizza’s not a vegetable, and canned fruits packed in sugar syrup aren’t fresh,” said Lesley.
The U.S. Senate passed its own version of Farm Bill legislation last week. The Farm Bill debate stalled last year, when the Senate passed a Farm Bill, but the House did not.
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The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.ffcampaignforchildren.org.