Reauthorization of U.S. Child Nutrition Programs: A Senate Hearing
by intern Emily Stephenson
This morning the Senate Agriculture committee met to discuss Child Nutrition reauthorization. Yesterdays USDA announcement about food insecurity in the US set the tone for the hearing. But as Blanche Lincoln herself said, the meals provided must not just fill bellies. Very promising sentiments from a woman who not only has a lot of sway in this issue, but also had previously only focused on addressing hunger. The hearing also discussed in great length the connection between hunger and obesity. They tied the issue of obesity and poor health to everything from impaired learning to national security. Looks like they really do see this as an important issue!
In fact, every one of our asks was addressed. Funding, obviously, was a big part. And while no specific figures were thrown out (other than Senator Gillibrands $.70 increase), USDA Secretary Tom Vilsak really drove the point home when he emphatically stated: you have to fund your priorities. This is a priority. And everyone seemed to be in agreement that vending machines and a la carte items must be regulated as well, specifically falling under the USDAs jurisdiction. Finally, while only Vilsak and Harkin mentioned Farm to School, all members of the committee agreed that facilities must be remodeled to accommodate cooking real food (Debbie Stabenows words) and nutritional education had to be brought up to snuffall components of Farm to School.
The hearing was very promising, you can watch it on the Ag Committees site, where you can find it under todays date (Nov. 17).
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