Congress Might Roll Back Healthy Lunch Programs

June 12. 2014 (San Diego) In 2010 the United States Congress approved the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. This Act was meant to improve nutrition in the School Lunch program, as well as other programs such as Supplemental Breakfast Program.

It was also part of the Move Campaign that First Lady Michelle Obama has been promoting. It was good policy and allows students to perform better in school and is credited with starting to reverse obesity rates in the United States. They have also led to better nutrition among the nation’s children.

According to a Harvard University study: 

“Some 32 million students eat school meals every day; for many low-income students, up to half their daily energy intake is from school meals. Under the previous dietary guidelines, school breakfasts and lunches were high in sodium and saturated fats and were low in whole grains and fiber. The new standards from the United States Department of Agriculture(USDA) aimed to improve the nutritional quality of school meals by making whole grains, fruits, and vegetables more available, requiring the selection of a fruit or vegetable, increasing the portion sizes of fruits and vegetables, removing trans fats, and placing limits on total calories and sodium levels.”

While this has been successful with reversing early obesity rates, and the CDC reports that: 

 “Nineteen states and territories are seeing decreasing in rates of obesity among low income preschoolers ages 2 to 4, but we’ve seen isolated reports in the past that have had encouraging trends but this is the first report to show many states with declining rates of obesity in our youngest children after literally decades of rising rates.”

We are now at the point where the School Nutrition Association is asking Congress for a waiver. This is an industry group, with members such as ConAgra Foods and Craft Foods. Politico though reports that there are breaks in the association with former Presidents of the Association asking that Congress do not approve these waivers. 

San Diego Unified is committed to following these standards, and feeding our children healthy lunches.  The District is also planning to continue the Summer Fun Cafe, that will continue to feed school children during the summer months, a time of the year when many children at risk suffer through less food.

For the moment, the program is at risk, and according to the AgMag Blog, lobbyist have already given quite a bit of donations to LawMakers in the Agricultural Committee: 

“The School Nutrition Association’s political action committee is a small player in political campaigns. But lobbyists at Olsson Frank and Weeda and Barnes and Thornburg gave $224,123 in the 2012 election cycle and have already given $122,835 in the 2014 cycle.  Many of these political contributions flowed to members of the agriculture and appropriations committees and lawmakers serving on other committees that oversee school lunch standards.”

The vote has been delayed until sometime next week. From the looks of it, we might see a weakening of standards, right as the United States is starting to reverse obesity trends.

Categories: Congress

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