Saturday, December 18, 2010

Nutrition Act Hopes to Reduce Childhood Obesity, Improve Health

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28), announced that the House passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the most significant improvement to child nutrition programs in more than 30 years. The bill is expected to be signed into law by President Obama.

Focusing on improving children’s health and reducing childhood obesity, the bill authorizes $4.5 billion over 10 years to provide an additional 21 million meals to children annually and connect approximately 115,000 new students to the school meal programs, as well as establish national nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools throughout the day.

“Every child needs access to a healthy start—not only for the health of the child, but for the health of our community as well,” said Congressman Cuellar. “By providing our students with healthier meals, we are enriching their bodies and minds to succeed in school and focus in the classroom. Also, this bill allows us to start reversing the trajectory of childhood obesity and hunger and address the urgent needs of our youngest and most vulnerable population.”

eDiets Meal Delivery Plan - 1 FREE Week! 
In Texas, 2.9 million children participate in the National School Lunch Program, feeding 65% of all Texas students. Currently, the national poverty rate for children is 20.7 percent – up from 15.6 percent in 2000 – and childhood hunger is correlated with poverty.  In addition, one in three children is currently either overweight or obese – up dramatically over the last 20 years.
Before After
Fried chicken patty Barbequed chicken patty
White roll Whole grain roll
Canned green beans Fresh carrots
Package of snack cakes (a la carte) Fresh sliced apples
Whole milk 1% milk

A majority of school districts in the 28th district use the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program, which will benefit greatly from this bill through the increased funding to purchase healthier foods and increased nutritional standards.

What Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 means for South Texas families:
Increased efficiency of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program by transitioning from paper food vouchers to an electronic benefit program (55% of infants born in Texas use WIC program)
Improved nutrition and wellness in child care settings by establishing nutrition requirements for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) (which includes providing meals to young children in preschool settings, such as child care centers and home-based child care, as well as to children participating in after-school programs) and providing guidance and technical assistance to support healthy child care settings.
Improved universal meal access for eligible children in high poverty communities by eliminating paper applications and using census data to determine school-wide income eligibility
More children consuming healthy produce from local farms by encouraging farm-to-school programs, school gardens and local foods in school cafeterias. (Mandatory funding of $5 million for farm-to-school programs in Texas)
The legislation is supported by a broad coalition of more than 1,300 anti-hunger, public health, faith, food industry, and other groups – including the Texas Food Bank Network, Food Research and Action Center, American Public Health Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Heart Association, National Education Association, National Association of State Boards of Education, Grocery Manufacturers of America, Food Marketing Institute, National Farmers Union, and Catholic Charities.

“There is no greater investment that we can make than in our children. The lack of access to proper nutrition leaves nearly one in four children at risk of hunger and nearly one in three overweight or obese,” said JC Dwyer, State Policy Director, Texas Food Bank Network. “For many children, child nutrition programs provided in school and out-of-school settings offer the most nourishing meals they receive each day. Yet, far too many children are not being served because programs are not accessible in their community.”

The House passed this bipartisan bill by a vote of 264-157. The Senate passed it by unanimous consent on August 5, 2010. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law shortly.

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