For decades, Congress has wisely ensured that federal child nutrition programs be guided by scientific recommendations from the Instutite of Medicine (IOM) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). As a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA), which the AAP supported, the USDA strengthened nutrition standards for school meals, based on recommendations by the IOM. These updated lunch standards have been in place for two years, and include provisions such as insuring more fruits and vegetables in school children’s lunches. 93% of lunches currently served meet these improved nutrition standards. As children receive up to 50% of their calories at school, it is critical that school meals are healthy, balanced and age appropriate.
The House began floor consideration of H.R. 4800, the fiscal year (FY) 2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill. This bill contains funding for several programs important to children’s health. However it also contains language that threatens to weaken federal child nutrition programs. Particularly it includes efforts:
to mandate the inclusion of white potatoes in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
to delay rules to limit unhealthy snack foods and sugary beverages in our nation’s school
to delay implementation of meal standards in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program.
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Michelle Ting, MD