Lincoln, Lugar, Other Senators Make Strong Push for Passage of Child Nutrition Bill

Washington– U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry was joined by Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), and other Senators today to urge passage of the The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (S.3307). The bill will reauthorize child nutrition programs before they expire on September 30th.  The bi-partisan, completely paid-for legislation will make the most historic investment in child nutrition programs since their inception.

 Lincoln and Lugar were joined by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), Senator Bob Casey, (D-Pa.), and Senator Amy Klobuchar, (D-Minn.). Dr. Sandra Hassink, American Academy of Pediatrics, Obesity Committee Chairman; Chuck Saylors, National PTA President; and Courtney Chea Reeve, Executive Director, Greenbrier Learning Center, also spoke about the importance of passing the bill. The event was attended by numerous hunger and nutrition advocates.  

 “The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act will put us on a path to end childhood hunger and obesity and improve the health of the next generation of Americans. If we miss the opportunity to pass this bill and improve these programs, it will be our children who pay the price for our inaction.  This bill is bipartisan, completely paid for and provides common-sense solutions to addressing childhood hunger and obesity. Congress should pass this bill before August and make an investment in our children that will last a lifetime,” said Lincoln.

 “I compliment the leadership of Chairman Blanche Lincoln and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss in developing a bipartisan bill that improves child nutrition programs. As a former chairman of the Agriculture Committee, I know the difficulties in moving nutrition legislation. This bill was approved by the committee in March. There has been no significant opposition since then. For many children from low income homes, food from child nutrition programs may provide the bulk of the nutrition they receive during the day. Children have no choice in their family’s circumstances, and these meals are critical to their chance for success and better health. This is as close to a moment of significant progress and constructive consensus as can be achieved. Given our economic climate, we should seize this moment to pass the bill,” said Lugar.

 Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said, “With such little time left before these vital nutrition programs expire, we cannot afford to delay bringing this bill to the floor.  This bipartisan and fiscally responsible bill, approved unanimously by the Agriculture Committee in March, represents the largest investment ever in federal child nutrition programs.  I hope that the Senate will promptly consider and pass it, because hunger and poor nutrition are a reality for far too many children today in Vermont and across the country.”

 “The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is an important investment in our nation’s children and their future,” said Sen. Carper.  “Our kids need regular access to wholesome food and meals so they can lead healthy lives and learn to the best of their ability.  Unfortunately too many of our kids don’t have enough healthy food available to them, which is why nearly 40 percent of our children in Delaware are either obese or overweight.  This legislation tackles this problem and will ensure that all children, regardless of where they live, have access to nutritious and healthy meals while they are at school.”

 “Passing the bipartisan child nutrition bill is vital to children and families in Pennsylvania and across the country,” said Senator Casey.  “Especially because of the economy, more children depend on these programs so they don’t go hungry.  More than one million children participate in the school lunch program in Pennsylvania with nearly 200 million lunches served each year.”

 “As a parent, I know firsthand the importance of providing nutritious food for our children – in and out of school,” Klobuchar said. “The most common ‘vegetable’ many of our kids eat are French Fries, and that needs to change. The well-being of our kids and the long-term prosperity of our country depend on it.” 

“This bill makes important strides toward overhauling our nation’s child nutrition programs – cutting calories and fat, increasing fruits and vegetables, and serving appropriate portion sizes,” said Sandra Hassink, MD, FAAP, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Obesity Leadership Workgroup.  “As a pediatrician who specializes in treating overweight and obesity, I have a special plea for the Senate:  Please put me out of a job.  I would like nothing more than to have an empty clinic.  Passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is a critical step toward guaranteeing all of our children a healthy future.”

 “A parent cannot wait another year to address the needs of their child, particularly when that child’s health and academic success are on the line. By the same token, Congress must not wait another year to address the needs of our children,” said Chuck Saylors, President, National PTA.

“The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act closes the gap in childhood hunger. Children have access to breakfast and lunch programs at school.  These are important but not enough.  Children who are properly nourished are, simply put, better able to learn.  This bill comes full-circle by providing children with access to three nutritious meals – including supper in their afterschool programs – so they do not have to go to bed hungry,” said Courtney Chea Reeve, Executive Director, Greenbrier Learning Center. 

 The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act passed the Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously on March 24. The bill provides the first non-inflationary increase in the Federal reimbursement rate for school lunch programs since 1973. The bill also takes a critical step to address the epidemic of childhood obesity with a provision to require the Secretary of Agriculture, through a transparent regulatory process, to establish national nutrition standards consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for all foods sold on school campuses throughout the school day.

Current child nutrition programs will expire on September 30th.  Lincoln has delivered floor speeches this week on the need to pass reauthorization legislation. Her full remarks are available here: Detailed summaries of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act are available here:

 Nutrition and Hunger Advocates Weigh In:

Arkansas Center for Health Improvement

Joseph W. Thompson, MD, MPH, Arkansas Surgeon General,

 “For many children across Arkansas and the nation the school breakfast and lunch program keeps them from going hungry.  We must continue to meet this critical need, but equally important, we must bring better nutrition into our schools to prevent obesity. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 is critical to solving the childhood obesity epidemic and will help our children eat better and lead healthier, more productive lives,” said Joseph Thompson, MD, MPH, Arkansas Surgeon General; Director of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement; Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity

 American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

Christopher W. Hansen, President

 “Addressing poor nutrition, physical inactivity and obesity through the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act will help to reduce our children’s risk of dying prematurely from cancer. We applaud the bipartisan effort to bring S. 3307, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, to the Senate floor for consideration soon. Overweight and obesity contribute to up to one-fifth of all cancer-related deaths in this country, and being overweight decreases the likelihood of survival for many cancers. Improving the nutritional quality of food available in schools is a critical step to addressing the national health crisis of obesity and physical inactivity,” said Christopher W. Hansen, President, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

 American Diabetes Association

Christine T. Tobin, RN, CDE, President Health Care & Education

 “The American Diabetes Association urges the Senate to swiftly consider the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.  The current authorization for child nutrition programs expires on September 30 and we do not want to lose all the progress that has been made so far.  If current trends continue, one in three children born today will develop diabetes in their lifetime. This overwhelming statistic is due in large part to the childhood obesity epidemic. Action is needed now to promote healthy lifestyles in school, where children spend a large portion of their day,” said Christine Tobin, RN, CDE, President Health Care & Education, American Diabetes Association.

 American Heart Association

Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association

 “By improving school wellness policies, children will have a greater opportunity to build strong minds and bodies during the school day and reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke. The Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act will ensure that students learn healthy habits that will have long-lasting benefits well beyond their years in school,” said Nancy Brown, CEO, American Heart Association.

 American Public Health Association

George C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), Executive Director, American Public Health Association

 “The public health community is counting on Congress to pass the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act before these important child nutrition programs expire at the end of September. The bill would take steps to dramatically improve nutrition and wellness among our nation’s youth by updating national nutrition standards that would remove junk food in schools and requiring local school-based wellness policies, and we urge all members of the Senate to join with Senator Lincoln in urging swift, positive action on this critical public health legislation before the August recess,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of American Public Health Association.

 Center for Science in the Public Interest

Margo G. Wooten, D.Sc., Director, Nutrition Policy

 “Congress has a lot on its plate this legislative session, but it needs to address what’s on kids’ plates: now! Renewal of the Child Nutrition programs has been delayed for a year. Our children can’t wait any longer. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (S. 3307) is a much needed step to address child nutrition and obesity. It would remove junk food from school vending machines, increase school lunch reimbursements, and provide more training to help schools serve healthier meals. Unlike the many controversial issues in Washington, this bill is bipartisan, won’t add to the deficit, and is popular with voters. It should take no more than a day of the Senate’s time. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell need to bring the child nutrition bill to the Senate floor for a vote before they go home for summer recess, and kids go back to schools. A day is not much to ask for our kids’ health and well being,” said Margo Wooten, D.Sc., Director, Nutrition Policy, Center for Science in the Public Interest.

 The Child Nutrition Initiative

Erin Campbell, Campaign Manager

 “Senator Lincoln’s bipartisan bill is a critical step forward in ensuring that kids have access to the nutritious food they need to improve their health, succeed in school and grow up to be healthy, active adults. With nearly one-third of U.S. kids overweight or obese and many depending on school meals as their most reliable source of food, the Senate must act now to pass this important legislation. Our kids can’t afford to wait,” said Erin Campbell, Campaign Manager, The Child Nutrition Initiative.

 Feeding America

Vicki Escarra, President and CEO

 “The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (S. 3307) is a step forward in achieving an end to child hunger. Too many hungry children are not being reached by our current child nutrition programs. This bill would increase access to nutritious food for millions of low-income children – particularly afterschool, in the summer, and over weekends,” said Vicki Escarra, President and CEO, Feeding America

 Food Research and Action Center

James Weill, President, Food Research and Action Center

 “The Food Research and Action Center applauds Senate Agriculture Chairman Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) for continuing to push the Child Nutrition Reauthorization process forward. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 makes important investments that will make children’s meals healthier and will expand low-income children’s access to nutritious food, including an expansion of the Afterschool Meal Program to all 50 states and improvements in processes for certification for school meals. A strong and robustly-funded final Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill, with the right mix of funding, is a key step in reaching the President’s goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015 and in reducing childhood obesity. FRAC joins Senator Lincoln in urging the Senate to get the reauthorization process moving on the floor and passing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Hungry children should not have to wait any longer,” said James Weill, President, Food Research and Action Center.

 Mission: Readiness

U.S. Army Major General Paul Monroe, a former head of the California Army National Guard and a member of the national nonprofit Mission: Readiness, composed of more than 150 retired generals and admirals.

 “On behalf of retired generals and admirals across the country, I urge the Senate to pass strong bipartisan school nutrition legislation before the August recess.  Research shows that up to 40 percent of children’s daily calorie intake occurs at school and that 80 percent of children who were overweight between the ages of 10 to 15 were obese by age 25. Improving school nutrition is a crucial area for reducing child obesity and helping expand the pool of young adults eligible for military service,” said U.S. Army Major General Paul Monroe, a former head of the California Army National Guard and a member of the national nonprofit Mission: Readiness, composed of more than 150 retired generals and admirals.

 The National WIC Association

Rev. Douglas A. Greenaway, President & CEO

 The National WIC Association (NWA) – the education arm and advocacy voice of the 9 million mothers and young children participating in WIC and WIC’s 12,200 service provider agencies – urges the Senate to act now in the interest of our nation’s children and proudly stands with Chairman Lincoln in support of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and the significant steps it takes towards meeting the President’s goal to end hunger by 2015, addressing the nation’s epidemic of childhood overweight and obesity, improving access to WIC for young children, emphasizing the critical importance of breastfeeding promotion and support, providing adequate resources to support breastfeeding peer counseling, requiring regular review of the WIC food packages to meet current dietary science, emphasizing rigorous health outcomes evaluation, and moving WIC towards electronic benefit service delivery for WIC mothers and young children,” said Rev. Douglas Greenaway, President & CEO of The National WIC Association.

 Nemours Office of Policy and Advocacy

Debbie I. Chang, MPH Vice President of Policy and Prevention, Nemours

 “Nemours applauds Chairman Lincoln and Ranking Member Chambliss for working together to move this reauthorization forward before these federal nutrition programs expire. We believe we must seize this opportunity to address hunger and nutrition on behalf of our nation’s children, especially our youngest children who increasingly spend time in child care,” said Nemours Office of Policy and Advocacy,” said Debbie I. Chang, MPH Vice President of Policy and Prevention, Nemours.

 School Nutrition Association

Nancy Rice, President

 “School nutrition programs desperately need additional funds from Congress to support ongoing efforts to offer more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products in the lunch line 

The First Lady, health professionals, school administrators, parents – everyone – has been talking about the importance of healthy eating to children’s well-being and academic achievement,” said Rice.  “After all, what is more important than nourishing the minds and bodies of America’s future generation?  Congress cannot afford to go on summer vacation without completing this assignment.  The School Nutrition Association and its members commend Chairman Lincoln for her commitment to passing Child Nutrition Reauthorization,” said Nancy Price, President, School Nutrition Association.

 United Fresh Produce Association

Lorelei DiSogra, EdD, RD, Vice President- Nutrition, United Fresh Produce Association.   

 “United Fresh Produce Association strongly supports “The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” and urges the Senate to pass child nutrition reauthorization.“The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” will make a historic investment in child nutrition programs, including critical funding to increase the reimbursement rate for school lunch so that schools can serve healthier meals including more fresh fruits and vegetables,” Lorelei DiSogra, EdD, RD, Vice President- Nutrition, United Fresh Produce Association.