House Republicans walk back nutrition standards for school meals
In a party-line vote, the House Appropriations Committee defeated an NEA-supported amendment to delete language allowing waivers of Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act nutrition standards—already being implemented effectively in 9 out of 10 schools—from the agriculture spending bill. Instead, schools could opt out of rules requiring meals to contain more fruits and vegetables, less sodium, and more whole grain-rich products on grounds that they are a money-losing proposition. Earlier this week, ESP member Donna West, a food service manager from Alabama, joined Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on a media call to talk about how the school meal standards are in fact working well.
Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act Becomes Law
The Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010, a reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, provides funding for federal school meal and child nutrition programs, increases access to healthy food, and promotes overall student wellness. By supporting school and community efforts that provide nutritious meals for children and promote overall wellness, the HHFKA is a major step forward in the fight to end childhood hunger, improve nutrition, and combat our country’s epidemic of obesity.
The HHFKA of 2010 includes $4.5 billion in new funding for its programs and provisions over a 10 year period. Here are some parts of the bill that may be important to NEA members:
The HHFKA will help end childhood hunger by:
- Expanding after school meals for at-risk children
- Expanding universal meal service through community eligibility
- Connecting more eligible low-income children with school meals through expanding direct certification
The HHFKA will improve student health and reduce obesity by:
- Establishing national nutrition standards for all foods sold in school during the school day, including a la carte lines and vending machines (note that the Act does not ban fundraisers such as bake sales, etc., held outside of the school day)
- Strengthening local school wellness policies and school food safety programs
- Developing model product specifications for USDA commodity foods used in school meals
The HHFKA will improve training and support the professionalism of food service employees by:
- Requiring annual training and certification for all local food service personnel in procedures to ensure program compliance and integrity, and in nutrition, health and food safety standards and methods
Some parts of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act will go into effect for the 2011-2012 school year, but many provisions will not take effect until the 2012-2013 school year, or later. There are a number of areas in which regulations must be developed and adopted through a public rule-making process. During this implementation period the NEA will be working with all stakeholders to ensure that schools can succeed in meeting the CNA’s goals of reducing childhood hunger, promoting health, and reducing childhood obesity.
- Education Support Professionals Learn New Ways to Boost Kids’ Nutrition
- Lunchroom Bounty: Serving up School Nutrition Programs to Solve the Hunger Problem (Oregon Education Association)
- Cafeteria Renovation Increases Healthy Food Options for New Jersey Students
- VIDEO: Food Fight — ESPs in Washington Battle Privateers, Support Quality Food
- NEA, White House Work to End Childhood Obesity. White House Task Force Seeks to End Childhood Obesity (NEA Today article)
Also at NEA.org
- Sizing Up the Obesity Crisis (October 2010)
- New legislation would allow schools to provide healthier fare for students (Pizza for Breakfast No More) (NEA Today article)
- Quality of School Lunches Questioned
Explore these resources, tips, and headlines about the academic and health benefits of school breakfast.
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Learn more about NEA member Education Support Professionals — many NEA members are school food service workers who are successfully serving healthier school meals
Learn more about NEA Health Information Network’s efforts to promote healthier school meals
Hear one school food service worker share her story