Posted on Sun, July 04, 2010 by Intern
6 Comments | Categories: Food Justice, News, Current Events, Policy, School Food,
by intern Christine Binder
Last Thursday, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) convened the House Education and Labor Committee for a hearing on the Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act of 2010 (H.R. 5504), the House’s version of the Child Nutrition Act.
Witnesses at the hearing included USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack; Chef Tom Colicchio of Top Chef; James D. Weill of the anti-hunger organization FRAC; Dr. Eduardo J. Sanchez, a family practice physician and health insurance executive; U.S. Army Major General Paul D. Monroe from the organization Mission Readiness; and Robert Rector of The Heritage Foundation (who was the only witness to speak against Child Nutrition legislation).
Most of the legislators present seemed in favor of implementing Farm to School programs and removing junk food from schools. Those are great steps forward, but they’re only partial victories if the Child Nutrition Bill doesn’t receive full funding. Right now, the National School Lunch Program leaves schools with about $1.00 for each meal’s ingredients. This bill would add six cents – not enough to give every child access to a healthy meal.
Some Representatives, worried about the deficit and elections this fall, are hesitant to make this long-term investment in America’s children, despite the evidence that high rates of obesity are causing dramatic increases in healthcare costs and have become a threat to national security. We’re entering a race against the clock to find a funding level for the bill that legislators on both sides of the aisle find suitable. The House and the Senate need to pass the bill by the end of the summer so President Obama can sign it into law before current legislation expires in September.
Congress is working in their home districts next week, but Chairman Miller announced that the Education and Labor Committee will mark-up H.R. 5504 on Tuesday, July 13th. If your House Representative is on the Education and Labor Committee, you can help out right now: call them and ask them to bring H.R. 5504 up for committee vote quickly and to fully fund the bill with at least an additional $1 billion per year (Make sure they know, too, that to really take on obesity, school lunch needs $4 billion.). Even if your Representative is not on the Committee, you can still call them and urge them to ask their colleagues on the Committee to quickly pass a fully funded bill.