Put the Nutrition Back in Nutrition Programs, Advocates Urge Appropriators
Washington – The First Focus Campaign for Children, a national bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, released a letter today urging leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee to support an amendment by Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA) to protect science-based standards for federally-funded school nutrition initiatives. Farr’s amendment would strike a provision in the draft U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) appropriations bill offering schools waivers of nutrition standards established under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFK).
“Congress should ensure schools have the resources necessary to meet nutrition standards, not lower the standards that protect children,” said First Focus Campaign for Children president Bruce Lesley.
The letter reminds lawmakers that the waiver provision is largely unnecessary. An overwhelming majority – 90 percent – of schools have already met HHFK standards. USDA has also offered flexibility and technical assistance to schools struggling with compliance.
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 bill also denies children in urban and suburban communities access to summer foodservice pilot programs, constraining access to children in rural communities.
“The House should put science and children ahead of politics,” said Lesley. “Hunger doesn’t care whether a child lives in a small town or in a big city, and when it comes to helping hungry children, Congress shouldn’t either.”
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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.