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Congressman proposes $8 billion for child nutrition


Rachael Ray joined Rep. George Miller (D--Calif.) to unveil the House bill that funds child nutrition programs (David Hartzler -- House Education and Labor Committee)

With Food Network star Rachael Ray at his side, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) unveiled a bill on Thursday that proposes about $8 billion in additional funding over 10 years for child nutrition programs, including school breakfast and lunch.

The programs have been the main focus of Michelle Obama’s high-profile Let’s Move campaign, which aims to end childhood obesity within a generation. About one-third of American children are overweight or obese, and, in difficult economic times, a growing number of children depend on school meals as a key source of healthful food.

The bill, dubbed the Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act of 2010, (pdf) is similar to a Senate bill that is awaiting a floor vote. It mandates that the Department of Agriculture develop strict nutrition standards for foods sold in vending machines and in so-called a la carte lines. It also requires that only low-fat milk be sold in the lunch line.

Like the Senate measure, which proposes a $4.5 billion increase in funding, the House bill includes an additional six cents for each school lunch that meets federal standards. But it also asks for an additional half a cent per lunch to fund nutrition education, which might include student taste tests or redesigning a cafeteria to encourage students to make healthier choices. It also provides start-up grants for school breakfast programs and year-round meal service in some states.

“This legislation creates a nutritional safety net for millions of children who rely on the child nutrition programs by meeting children’s nutritional needs at every step along the way -- in school, on the weekends and during the summer," Rep. Miller said in a statement. (To view video excerpts of the news conference, click here.)

Some food reform advocates say far more money will be required to overhaul the burgers and tater tots that are the mainstays of many school cafeterias. In an op-ed piece in the New York Times, Alice Waters famously said schools needed $5 per lunch per student, almost twice the $2.68 they receive from the federal government for students that qualify for a free lunch. A coalition of food reformers, including "Renegade Lunch Lady" Ann Cooper, is lobbying for $1 more per child per lunch.

This bill's proposed increase is close to the $10 billion President Obama called for in his 2010 budget. If passed, the law would represent the first time since 1973 that Congress has increased the federal reimbursement rate for school meals.

“Their position is this is a historic bill, and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration,” said Margo Wootan, the director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington public health advocacy group. “We’ve been trying to get junk food out of vending machines for a decade. And we’ve been trying to get whole milk out of schools for 15 years. Even though the reimbursement isn’t as high as some people would like, it’s a significant increase. This is a huge step forward.”

Many advocates cheered the proposed increase in funding. The sustainable agriculture lobby cheered $50 million in mandatory funding for farm-to-school programs. The School Nutrition Association applauded the new professional standards for cafeteria workers.

But whether the House can find the money to pay for it remains in question. Unlike the Senate, which proposes enough cuts in other programs to pay for the increase, the House Education and Labor Committee, which Miller chairs, has found only $1 billion so far. To pass its version, it will need to persuade other committees, such as the House Agriculture Committee, to help fund its proposal.

Also in doubt is whether Congress will find the time to bring a final bill to a vote. The legislation that currently funds child nutrition programs is set to expire on Sept. 30. If Congress does not take action on the proposals, it will instead pass an extension to continue the current funding. To get a bill to the president’s desk, advocates say, votes on both the House and Senate versions must happen before the August recess.

“An extension is the worst possible outcome,” said CSPI’s Wootan. “You get none of the reforms or the expansion in benefits. Basically, you get stuck with what we have now.”

-- Jane Black

By Jane Black  |  June 10, 2010; 2:15 PM ET
Categories:  Food Politics  | Tags: Jane Black, Michelle Obama, school lunch  
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Comments

Really, Hat’s off. Well done, as we know that “hard work always pays off”, after a long struggle with sincere effort it’s done. This action proof to be a win, win situation. This is a true art
work, which will be a success story.
===========================================
PLR Private Label Rights

Posted by: luciyahelan | June 11, 2010 1:48 AM | Report abuse

Feed your own God Damn children ... Jesus Christ this country is hopeless.

Posted by: cautious | June 11, 2010 5:48 AM | Report abuse

Socialism only works until you run out of other peoples money.

Posted by: charlie-Imac | June 11, 2010 7:26 AM | Report abuse

Why remove whole milk ? My kids have them and they are fit and fine. Of course, We cook for my kids every day and pack their lunch. It's not what type of milk, it's how they raise the animals to get the milk!

Posted by: reefer | June 11, 2010 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Wow, I can't believe removing whole milk in favor of low fat milk is in this bill. Even as studies are showing whole milk is more protective of good health than the more processed milk with fat removed. Hasn't the message gotten through yet that a low fat diet that is part of conventional wisdom today doesn't seem to be doing a thing about our obestity problem?

Posted by: mb129 | June 11, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

so,parents send their children to school to be fed at taxpayers expenses...how nice.NO!

Posted by: julcubdish | June 11, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

many generations have grown up on the same food and were not obese. These kids are obese because they sit around and play video games instead of riding bikes and playing outdoors. Just another waste of taxpayers money.

Posted by: djrhood | June 12, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

I support this bill. We must invest in our nation's children. They are the future. Better food translates into better health, and lower medical bills down the road.

Regarding the comments about feeding your own @$#! children, hello....you need a wake up call. Parents working two jobs are so financially strapped by the cost of housing that they have to choose between food and rent. Food stamps don't cover the cost of food, and food banks barely make up the difference. Jobs don't pay living wages anymore. The economy is in the tank. This isn't the burden for 7 year old children to suffer. They need to eat, and learn at school. You can't learn if you are hungry. I live in a wealthy county, and yet we have pockets of poverty so great that volunteers stuff school backpacks with food on Friday afternoons. Otherwise these children wouldn't have one scrap of food to eat all weekend. Hunger in America is a big problem.

Posted by: AnnsThought | June 12, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

NO MORE Waste should be funded for children meals. I have not seen a single child on food stamps that is NOT OBESE. Use the money already budgeted to buy more nutritious food and QUIT THE WASTE. Children in this country are OBESE and need LESS FOOD NOT MORE.

Posted by: usausa2 | June 12, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Have Children drink WATER and EAT peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, spaghetti, etc. The problem with the Poor is that they are TOO Lazy to cook an egg, eat cereal at home, and prefer WELFARE. CUT THE WASTE NOW.

Posted by: usausa2 | June 12, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Where is the study and science that shows how many children that exploit school meals are OBESE. The Federal Government feeds the kids so they are OBESE and then the Federal Government gives them Welfare ObamaCare to tell them to lose weight. OBAMA is an IDIOT and INCOMPETENT.

Posted by: usausa2 | June 12, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

The problem with people on food stamps is that they are TOO LAZY to cook a simple egg, make a peanut butter sandwich, cook spaghetti, eat cereal, eat oatmeal, cook marcaroni cheese, etc. and eat nutritiously. STOP the FOOD STAMP WELFARE NOW. These people are OBESE and STEALING from the hardworking Tax Payers.

Posted by: usausa2 | June 12, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

cautious sez:

Feed your own God Damn children ... Jesus Christ this country is hopeless.
-------------------
Amen to that. George Miller is another SPEND-O-CRAT from Northern California.

How about parents shouldering the responsibility and not the Federal Government.

No more money for subsidized school lunches and breakfast. le tthe parents get a job or pack their youngsters lunch.

In 1974, less than 3% of (Los Angeles) LAUSD students participated in the free lunch program.

Today, it is more than 55%. Can you say "systematic moochers" and "anchor babies" and "illegal aliens?"

Posted by: Computer_Forensics_Expert_Computer_Expert_Witness | June 12, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Or you could say can you hear the giant sucking sound of jobs leaving the USA after NAFTA. You could say outsourcing, depressed wages, lost opportunities, a nation in decline.....we literally packed up the factories and sent them to China. Only jobs left are service sector for the most part. Jobs that don't pay a living wage. Hence, lots and lots of pockets of poverty since 1974.

Posted by: AnnsThought | June 13, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Gee, only $8B??? Why not $40B? Why not just induct the little devils into school and only release them back to "parents" when they reach age 16 AND they have an appropriate "healthy" body weight?

Why do we take such risks, as a society, allowing parents any role whatsoever in raising these children? Congressman Miller, a died in the wool Marxist, and that terminally annoying yak machine Rachel Ray, surely can design a better way for our kids to grow up.

I'm with Cautious. The country is hopeless.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | June 13, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

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