News Column

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Tom Colicchio, Food Policy Action and FED UP Filmmakers Stand Up for Nutrition Standards in American Schools

May 28, 2014

WASHINGTON, May 28 -- Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, D-Conn. (3rd CD), issued the following news release:

Today, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT); Tom Colicchio, Head Judge, Top Chef, Food Policy Action; Laurie David, Executive Producer FED UP; Stephanie Soechtig, Director and Producer FED UP are imploring members of the House Appropriations Committee not to weaken nutrition standards in the Fiscal Year 2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill. That bill is scheduled to be considered by the full committee tomorrow. Last week Republicans on the Agriculture subcommittee voted to undo the progress made to make school meals healthier under the 2010 Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act.

"For decades, our federal nutrition policies have been based on the principles of sound scientific research and evidence-based decision-making," said DeLauro, a former chairwoman of the subcommittee responsible for funding the Agriculture Department, and champion for nutrition and anti-hunger programs. "But House Republicans are attempting to put profits and politics before nutrition, and special interests before the interests of families and children. Adding white potatoes to the Supplemental Women with Infant Children Nutrition program would benefit industry, not children.

Trying to waive requirements for schools to improve meals and remove unhealthy snack foods is a naked attempt to appease special interests. We have to do better."

"As a father of 3 boys, and the son of a lunch lady from Elizabeth, New Jersey, this fight feels personal. House republicans like Congressmen David Valadao, Robert Aderholt and Jack Kingston should be ashamed that they are fighting to make school meals less nutritious," said Colicchio, head judge on Top Chef and a founder of Food Policy Action. "If you are a mom, or you are a dad, and you are listening to this debate, you should be furious.

These are your elected officials who are ignoring the childhood obesity epidemic and fighting instead for the profits of large food companies who are fueling their re-election bids." There are currently 15.9 million hungry children across the country, and for many the only two nutritious meals they are getting on a daily basis are at school. The opponents of reform often like to cite statistics about decreased participation or food waste as reasons for rolling back reforms.

However, according to the USDA 91 percent of school systems are in compliance with the new guidelines, and in many population segments, including low-income school districts, there has been an increase not a decrease in participation in school meals.

"Noted obesity expert Dr. Kelly Brownell charges that schools should be a healthy 'safe zone' for kids but instead they are 'a 7 eleven' with books," said David, who along with Katie Couric executive produced the new film Fed Up which chronicles the nation's food and nutrition policy crisis. "If we're going to reverse the dangerous course we're on, we'll need to hold the food industry, and the Members of Congress that do their bidding, accountable. We need to get real about the food we are providing to kids and the impact that it has on their health. Their future, and the future of our nation, depends on us taking action."

"Childhood obesity and the growing diabetes rate is a direct result of the food industry's relentless focus on profits, and how much the government is beholden to corporate interests. This is the biggest health crisis of our time, and we can either start addressing it by serving kids healthier meals in school, or we can let industry profit continue to drive what's being put on kids' plates," continued Fed Up director Soechtig.

The FY15 Agriculture Appropriations bill contains provisions that would roll back school nutrition standards. This would pave the way for fewer whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and more sodium, sugar and overall fat including saturated and trans fats in school meals. Less than a week ago, Food Policy Action along with more than 100 organizations from 36 states sent a strong message to Congress - don't use the appropriations process to weaken federal child nutrition programs. The legislation would also circumvent the USDA/Institute of Medicine process determining the appropriate foods to offer in the food package for the Supplemental Women, Infants and Children Nutrition program.

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Source: Targeted News Service

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