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Statement on Passage of the Cromnibus Spending Bill

December 15, 2014

Tom Stenzel, President & CEO, United Fresh Produce Association

WASHINGTON, DC – I want to congratulate and thank those Members of Congress and the Administration who came together to pass the Cromnibus spending bill, providing for financial stability in operating the federal government in the coming year. The American people have been clear that they want our nation’s leaders to work together to govern, and this is a strong start on that path as the new Congress prepares to begin its work in January.

Nowhere is that spirit of compromise better seen than in the Agricultural Appropriations bill dealing with school meals. After a sometimes contentious debate over the past year, members of Congress agreed that schools should have more flexibility in certain areas such as securing whole grain products and meeting future sodium restrictions. At the same time, Congress agreed that rolling back the very modest requirement that kids get one-half cup of fruits and vegetables in their lunch would not be good policy, and would have been detrimental to achieving our shared public health goal which is to help children learn to make half-their-plate fruits and vegetables. The modest half-a-cup requirement is one step toward a lifetime of better health for today’s kids, and lower long-term healthcare costs for our country.

We specifically want to thank the appropriators in both the House and Senate for reaching this wise compromise to support our kids’ health and the needs of schools in delivering healthy meals to students. Our commitment now is to continue working with schools across the country to help them with efficient and cost-effective procurement of fresh fruits and vegetables, developing storage and handling capacity, recipe development for great tasting meals, and presentation of a wide variety of great tasting produce items through salad bars and effective placement and merchandising. We pledge our support to USDA to continue providing training for schools that may be having difficulty in serving great-tasting, healthy meals to their students. Our industry has and will continue to lead in this area through our support of Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, which has donated almost 4,000 salad bars to schools nationwide. United Fresh Produce Association will continue our important work to provide training tools and support to school food service professionals across the country.

Looking ahead to Child Nutrition Reauthorization in the coming year, we stand ready to roll up our sleeves to work with members of both authorizing committees in the House and Senate in providing support to schools to achieve our shared goals for kids’ health. Schools need help in modernizing and streamlining procurement processes, updating refrigeration and cafeteria equipment, and financial resources to support healthy meals. The solution contained in the Cromnibus passed today resolves a past debate, and sets all of us on a positive course where we can work together to serve our nation’s children.

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Founded in 1904, the United Fresh Produce Association brings together companies across every segment of the fresh produce supply chain, including growers, shippers, fresh-cut processors, wholesalers, distributors, retailers, foodservice operators, industry suppliers and allied associations. We empower industry leaders to shape sound government policy. We deliver the resources and expertise companies need to succeed in managing complex business and technical issues. We provide the training and development individuals need to advance their careers in produce. And, through these endeavors, we unite our industry with a common purpose – to build long-term value for our members and grow produce consumption. For more information, visit www.unitedfresh.org or call 202-303-3400.