Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nutrition Bills in Congress

The following is an action alert from Pam Roy, director of the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council.

We want to bring two House Resolutions to your attention and ask for your consideration to contact your Congressman and request that they sign on to both of these Resolutions.

The Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act, H.R. 1324:

This bill will update the national nutrition standards for foods sold in schools that "directly compete" with school meals (breakfast and lunch). "Competitive foods" include vending machines that sell candy bars and soft drinks and fast food franchise. The current federal standards are 30 years old. As stated below, New Mexico was one of the first states to change nutrition standards in schools to eliminate most competitive food sales - thanks to the hard work of many of you!

More than 120 members of Congress have already signed on. We need to show our New Mexico support! Please contact Reps. Lujan, Heinrich and Teague to request that they co-sign the H. R. 1324 legislation.

Last autumn, the NM Food and Agriculture Policy Council chose several important issues that we felt would be important to focus on in the current federal Child Nutrition Reauthorization. One issue was to support federal nutrition standards that would limit the sale of "competitive foods in schools" in all states as long as it didn't supersede state rules already passed and implemented in numerous states including New Mexico (see attached letter already sent to New Mexico Senators and Congressmen).

In 2006-7 the NM Food & Ag Policy Council took a lead role in working with New Mexico organizations, agencies and policymakers to change "school meal rules" to restrict the sales of candy and sodas in vending machines in schools, as well as other "competitive foods" such as fast food vendors, from selling in schools (thus competing with school meal programs).

New Mexico was one of the first states to change the rules to restrict schools from allowing the sales of unhealthy foods and the promotion of healthier options such as fresh fruits and vegetables in school meal and snack programs. We advocated at the federal level to increase the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program which received a healthy increase through the passage of the federal Farm Bill in 2008 and now benefits children in all states.

White House Conference on Food and Nutrition, H. R. 1869

Representatives James P. McGovern and Jo Ann Emerson have introduced H.R. 1869, a bill requiring a White House Conference on Food and Nutrition to be held by December 31, 2010.

The White House Conference on Food and Nutrition would bring together experts in food, health, nutrition, and economic security to develop a plan not only to end hunger once and for all in the United States, but also require that proper nutrition be taken into account in such a plan.

Ending hunger is the moral thing to do, but it's also critical that we address the issues associated with the rising cost of food and health care, increased obesity rates, and the health problems associated with obesity, poor nutrition, and hunger.

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