Last week the long awaited child nutrition bill was released by the House Education and the Workforce Committee with a vote expected this week. The House bill essentially guts the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) by including “all forms” of processed fruits and vegetables such as canned, frozen, dried and pureed in the highly effective FFVP. The House bill also puts the ½ cup fruit/vegetable requirement for school meals in jeopardy. The United Fresh Produce Association is opposed to the bill and continues to work on Capitol Hill to protect children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables in school nutrition programs.
Tom Stenzel, President & CEO of United Fresh, issued the following statement:
“The bill introduced by Chairman Kline is a disappointing step in Congressional efforts to pass Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation this year. This bill fails to address many of the real issues needed to win bipartisan support on the House floor, and fails to recognize that compromise will be necessary with the Senate and the Obama Administration if the President is ever to sign a bill. Unfortunately, this effort simply reinforces old positions that get in the way of a final bill landing on the President’s desk in 2016.
When we focus on kids’ health, there is widespread agreement throughout the public health community and increasingly clear and tangible evidence that kids are getting healthier meals and making healthier choices. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act was passed by the Congress in 2010 on a wide bipartisan basis. As the new standards under the Act have rolled out, we are seeing better nutrition for kids today, a school environment that motivates kids to make better choices, and even greater efficiency in implementation for school districts that sometimes felt challenged initially. Now is not the time to go back.
We urge committee members to move forward to pass a bipartisan bill that ensures all students continue to have access to healthier school meals and snacks, including more fresh fruits and vegetables. On the committee’s current course, there seems little chance of enacting any bill this year. Thoughtful people who want to see Child Nutrition Reauthorization in 2016 need to find the compromises that will achieve that goal.”
For additional information, contact Dr. Lorelei DiSogra at 202-303-3404.