For Immediate Release Monday May 19, 2014
Contact: Claire Benjamin
Washington, D.C. – Tomorrow, the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees are scheduled to consider annual funding bills, released today, that include language that would weaken school meal program rules passed under the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. Earlier this month, more than 40 House members signed a letter asking USDA to reduce whole grains and increase sodium in school meals, and maintain the status quo on school snacks and a la carte options.
“The question I have is, why are Members fighting to roll back school nutrition standards? Our nation is facing a health and obesity crisis, and rather than think about the future of our children the members pushing for these rollbacks are only thinking about future campaign contributions,” said Claire Benjamin, managing director of Food Policy Action (FPA). “Schools have already made real progress implementing the reforms, and it is extremely disappointing that some members of Congress are advocating for business as usual.”
While amendments related to school lunch are not likely to be offered tomorrow, the underlying bill and report tees-up the full committee mark-up occurring when Congress returns from the Memorial Day recess.
“First Lady Michele Obama worked on a bi-partisan effort to reform, over time, the nation’s school lunch programs. The attempts of some in Congress to strip key parts of this reform is political pandering at its worst,” continued Benjamin. “What these legislators are claiming is just a call for ‘flexibility’ for schools, is in fact an attempt to attack the health of school lunches through the appropriations process. The majority voters want their kids to be served healthier meals at school, and we hope that legislators take a stand for kids when these dangerous provisions come up for a vote in the coming weeks.”
FPA also signed onto a statement today, joining the likes of the National PTA, American Diabetes Association, and the American Medical Association, opposing “efforts to use the appropriations process to change or weaken federal child nutrition programs, including potential efforts to require the inclusion of white potatoes in the WIC Program, to alter or delay implementation of meal standards in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program.” Also, a link to the statement will be available at apha.org.
Launched in 2012, FPA was created to hold legislators accountable on a full range of food policy issues including healthy diets, hunger, food access and affordability and food safety.