UPDATE: During the week of June 23, 2014 the House will vote on a budget bill that includes an amendment allowing schools to request a waiver to excuse them from meeting the new school meal standards. This is a case of pizza manufacturers, French fry companies, and canned food makers lobbying to put their special interests ahead of kids' health. Members of Congress need to hear from us NOW so they don’t roll back the important progress the country is making on healthy school meals. Write to them and ask them to vote to strike the waiver!**
Some members of Congress are playing politics with our children’s health: by attempting to gut nutrition standards through the appropriations process. They might say they just want to provide schools with a little more “flexibility,” but their changes would roll back standards on salt, whole grains, fruits/vegetables, and snacks. These are the same people who legislated that pizza is a vegetable (because it contains a little tomato sauce)!
As a mom and the Director of Nutrition Policy for the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), I know that school food improvements are working. Thankfully, ninety percent of schools now meet the updated nutrition standards for school lunch, helping millions of students get more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. But recently this common sense approach has come under attack, and I need your help.
Critics complain about the “nanny state.” But when Big Food comes knocking, they’re happy to step in and micromanage school nutrition standards to win political points.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been responsive to challenges schools face in implementing the new lunch standards. Schools need support and technical assistance, not a free pass to serve junk to kids. And kids need nutrition standards based on science, not politics.
As a parent with a child in public school, I know it’s confusing to teach children about health in the classroom and serve unhealthy meals in the cafeteria. Child obesity rates are at record-high levels and many students rely on school lunch for good nutrition.
Join me in telling Congress that school lunch is off limits. We're "Fed Up" with you playing politics with our children’s health.
Please urge your members of Congress not to weaken the National School Lunch Program and help ensure that all students have access to healthy foods at school.
For the past two years, schools across the country have worked hard to meet updated nutrition standards for school meals. Now, ninety percent of schools meet the updated standards for school lunch, and studies show that they are increasing kids’ fruit and vegetable intake.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is listening and responding to the challenges that some schools are facing as they update their meal patterns. The Department removed the weekly maximums for grains and protein foods, made adjustments to the school lunch pricing requirements, and is providing technical assistance and support to schools to help them meet the new meal patterns.
Congress should not micromanage school nutrition standards through the appropriations process. What is being billed as bringing “flexibility” to the school foods programs instead would significantly weaken reasonable standards for salt, whole grains, fruits/vegetables, and snacks. And, locking outdated nutrition standards into statute will harm children’s health now and in the future.
President Truman first inaugurated the school lunch program, and it has long enjoyed a history of bipartisan support. I urge you to go back to those bipartisan roots for school foods and ensure that Congress does not play politics with our children’s health.
Can I count on you to stand up for our kids and oppose weakening the school foods programs through the appropriations process? I look forward to your reply.