Thursday, June 10, 2010

Facts For Bipartisan House Legislation: Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act of 2010

Mirroring Let's Move! initiatives to eliminate childhood obesity and combat hunger for millions of American children...
Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, is introducing the Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act of 2010 today, co-sponsored by Reps. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY-4), chair of the Subcommittee on Healthy Families and Communities, Rosa DeLauro (D-CA-3), Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Rep. Todd Russel Platts (R-PA). Talk show host and celeb chef Rachael Ray joined Rep. Miller for the announcement of the new legislation this morning. Below is a factsheet; click here for bill text [PDF].

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a statement about the bipartisan effort:

"I commend Chairman Miller for his efforts to develop a strong bill to reauthorize and reform the Child Nutrition Act. The legislation introduced today takes yet another step toward the passage of a robust bill that reforms our school meals programs by reducing barriers to participation, improves program access, and enhances the quality of school meals and the health of the school environment. We simply must pass this critical legislation this year, for the future of our children."

The legislation mirrors key investments proposed by President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in the Let's Move! campaign, and is an effort to both combat childhood hunger and obesity. It mandates national nutrition standards for all foods served in schools according to federal Institute of Medicine guidelines, calls for farm to school sourcing for more fresh produce and vegetables, streamlines access for children with the elimination of paper applications, improves nutrition education in multiple child care settings, calls for training for school food workers, and has excellent food safety elements. There are also competitive grants offered for states.

When launching the Chefs Move to Schools project at the White House last Friday, Mrs. Obama called for Congress to swiftly pass child nutrition legislation.

The legislation allows for an increase of only six cents per child per meal in the federal feeding programs, which will come under immediate assault from critics. But the legislation is excellent, and joins the Senate equivalent, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, as the most progressive child nutrition legislation in forty years.

Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act of 2010

Improve Access to School Meal Programs:

*Increase the number of eligible children enrolled in the school lunch programs by using Medicaid/SCHIP data to directly certify children who meet income requirements without requiring individual applications and requiring states to establish and execute a plan to increase rates of direct certification.

*Provide enhanced universal meal access for eligible children in high poverty communities by eliminating paper applications and using census data to determine school wide income eligibility.

*Increase children’s access to healthy school breakfasts by providing competitive grants to school districts to start up or improve their program.

Improve Access to Out of School Meal Programs:

*Ensure fewer children go hungry year round by providing meals for over 165,000 children through seamless meal service for children in school based and community based after-school programs.

*Improve access for children in home-based child care by reducing administrative costs for sponsors of child care meal programs.

Help Schools and Child Care Improve the Quality of Meals:

*Assist schools in meeting meal requirements proposed by the Institute of Medicine by increasing the reimbursement rate for lunch by 6 cents per meal -- the first real increase in over 30 years.

*Enhance funding for nutrition education in schools to support healthy eating and school wellness.

*Promote stronger collaboration and sharing of nutrition education between child care programs and WIC programs.

Encourage Public/Private Partnerships In Communities

*Connect more children to healthy produce from local farms by helping communities establish local farm to school networks, establish school gardens and use more local foods in school cafeterias.

*Leverage public and private partnerships to help reduce childhood hunger and promote community-wide strategies to improve child nutrition and wellness.

Improve Food Safety requirements For School Meal Programs:

*Ensure school meals are safe for all students by extending food safety requirements to all areas in which school food is stored, prepared, and served.

*Support improved communication to speed notification of recalled school foods consistent with GAO recommendations.

*Ensures all foodservice employees have access to food safety training to prevent and identify food borne illness such as through web-based training.

Streamline Program Administration and Support Program Integrity:

*Increase efficiency, improve program administration and modernize the WIC program by transition from paper food vouchers to an electronic benefit program.

*Strengthen School Meal program integrity and remove program silos in after school meal programs by simplifying program rules and affording schools greater flexibility for addressing program costs.