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Lugar’s New Child Nutrition Law

U.S. Senator Dick Lugar released the following statement after the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids of Act of 2010 was signed into law:

On December 13, an important piece of national legislation which extends and improves programs associated with the health, wellbeing, and education of Indiana children was signed into law. As a co-sponsor of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, it passed earlier this year without a single dissenting vote in the United States Senate.

Our nation has maintained school nutrition programs since the 1940’s, in part as a matter of national security due to the effects of childhood malnutrition among military aged recruits.  While the situation regarding food security for our population is different today, the basic underlying issue remains the same.  For many children from low income homes, school meals provide the bulk of the nutrition they receive during the day.  These children have no choice with regards to where or to which families they are born. It’s not their fault they lack access to nutritious food. 

While these programs provide nutritious meals to more than 750,000 Hoosier children each day, this bill will also make great strides in addressing obesity by improving the nutritional quality of meals and expanding food access for our nation’s at risk children.  The bill establishes a performance based increase in reimbursements to schools that improve the nutritional quality of school meals, and updates rules currently in place that determine the types of foods sold in schools outside of the school meals program.  These rules include state and local recommendations, and do not prohibit bake sales or snacks and refreshments being sold at athletic events.  Reductions in other federal spending priorities means this bill does not add to the deficit.

The legislation improves the Summer Food Service Program, which feeds more than 45,000 Indiana children in low income areas during the summer months.  While this program has been in existence for more than four decades, I proposed significant improvements after visiting a food service site in New Albany, Indiana, and found low participation. I heard from Indiana providers that governmental red tape prevented many who wanted to participate.  A pilot program I authored in 1999 removed the red tape and increased participation by Hoosier children by 80 percent.  This streamlined program has now been made permanent throughout the United States.

While we work to address hunger and food insecurity among nearly 20 percent of our population, we also have to face the fact nearly one-third of our children are either overweight or obese.  Rising obesity rates imperil the health of millions of Americans and reduce the number of young people who can serve in the military.  A report by Mission: Readiness entitled, “Ready, Willing, and Unable to Serve,” highlights the serious situation our all-volunteer military finds itself in when trying to enlist new recruits.  Only one-in-four of today’s 17-24 year olds are able to enlist, predominantly because of a lack of a high school diploma or obesity. 

Today, children in Indiana will continue to have access to nutritious meals in schools, during the summer, and during other times of need because Congress worked in a bipartisan manner for the betterment of our nation.

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