Kids Advocates Urge No Vote on Ag Appropriations Bill, As Drafted
Washington – The bipartisan children’s advocacy organization First Focus Campaign for Children sent a letter today urging members of the United States House of Representatives to oppose legislation funding the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), absent the adoption of amendments to strike policies that undermine efforts to mitigate childhood hunger and obesity. Though the legislation fully funds critical child nutrition initiatives, it weakens those initiatives’ nutritional standards.
“It’s hard to oppose a bill that fully funds initiatives for children, but funding bills aren’t just about how much money, they’re also about how that money’s used. Child nutrition initiatives aren’t a pipeline for subsidies to corporate farms and food manufacturers,” said Campaign for Children president Bruce Lesley. “With one-in-five children living in homes that struggle with hunger and a national childhood obesity epidemic, it’s time Congress put the nutrition back in child nutrition programs.”
The bill would offer schools waivers of nutrition standards established under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA). The Campaign for Children letter reminds lawmakers that the waiver provision is largely unnecessary. An overwhelming majority – 90 percent – of schools have already met HHFKA standards. USDA has also offered flexibility and technical assistance to schools struggling with compliance.
“Congress should ensure schools have the resources necessary to meet nutrition standards, not lower the standards that protect children,” said Lesley.
The letter also cautions against other efforts to weaken nutritional standards in the National School Lunch Program and other food aid initiatives. The bill would override science-based nutritional standards for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), requiring USDA to subsidize white potatoes, despite the federal Institute of Medicine’s recommendations to the contrary.
“The House should put science and children ahead of politics,” said Lesley.
# # #
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.