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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Take Action : What's for Lunch?

One of the goals of this blog is to inform. I hope that by bringing up and informing on issues that I feel passionate about, I can incite in my readers that same passion. If I can get just one person to act, I feel I have made a difference in the lives of future generations. So blah, blah, blah, here it goes....

Today, that issue is nutrition. More specifically, the nutrition of our children as provided and protected by the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 and the Richard B. Russel National School Lunch Act of 1946. Both of these Acts are now up for review, and both contain parts that will expire Sept 30th of THIS YEAR (that's just weeks away, people!) without Congressional action. It is important to know what is going on, especially when our children are at stake! Congress meets on Sept 8th to discuss this, just a few days away!!

The objective of the Child Nutrition Act, according to the Act itself, is "to safeguard the health and well-being of the Nation's children, and to encourage the domestic consumption of agriculture and other foods, by assisting States through grants-in-aid and other means, to meet more effectively the nutritional needs of our children". To read the Child Nutrition Act (CNA) in it's entirety click here. Yeah, it's long and technical, but in a nut shell, the CNA includes the implementation of:

The School Breakfast Program
The School Milk Program
The Special Nutrition Programs for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), including the WIC Farmers Market Program, School Wellness Programs, and the Program to Promote Breastfeeding.

Are you still with me?  The Richard B. Russel National School Lunch Act of 1946 can be read in it's entirety here, but again, in a nut shell, it includes the implementation of:

The National School Lunch Program
Nutritional promotion and education
The Reduced/Free Lunch Program
The Summer Food Service Program
The Child and Adult Care Food Program
The After School Snack and Meal Programs

So what's the deal? All of these programs EXCEPT National School Lunch, The School Breakfast, and School Milk Programs are set to expire on Sept 30th, without Congressional action. Now I highly doubt that the other programs dissapear, but they are up for review and could be modified. There are several issues that are of focus, including:

The need for the implementation and enforcement of policies to guarantee that school meals are following recent updates to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The need for an increase in the funding received by States to cover the increase in food costs, and to cover the higher price of healthier foods in school meals.

The proposed elimination of the "Reduced" lunch program. Groups such as the School Nutrition Association, are stating that even the "reduced lunch" price is too much, suggesting that there be only "free" and "paid" lunches. Read more on this here.

The need for the strengthening of the School Wellness Program and the support and strengthening of the WIC program with the assistance of Congress. For more details on this click here.

The need for the strengthening of policies to support farm to school initiatives. Farm to School is a program that forms a link between local farms and schools to provide healthier food for school menus, and to improve nutrition through education. For more info, click here.

Ok, now if you are still reading this, you probably want to know what YOU can do to see that these issues are considered on Sept 8th. Here are some ideas:

Take part in "A Time for Lunch" National Day of Action Eat-In on Labor Day, Sept 7th. An Eat-In can be as basic as a group of people having a picnic in a public place while having a "sit-in". The purpose of this Eat-In is to get REAL food into schools. You can find an Eat-In near you, or host your own by visiting Slowfood.org. There is also a petition here you can sign.

Visit HealthySchoolsCampaign.org to send a form email to your Legislators. This is as easy as typing your name and clicking to send!

Go to USA.gov to get your Legislators email address or phone number and give them a piece of you mind. They work for YOU!

Hope that wasn't too borring!!!!! Let me know what you think. I know there are more aspects to these Acts and proposed changes than I touched on. This was just the Cliff Notes.

Where I got my info, and where you can go if you want more:
The National Farm to School Program
National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA)
Child Nutrition Act of 1966
School Nutrition Association
Healthy Schools Campaign
Frame Works Institute
Frac101: Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act
United States Department of Agriculture
GovTrack.us

1 comments:

Melissa said...

Wow! That's a lot of good info. Thanks for this. These are programs that we don't want to go away!