Restructure the Commodities Food Program
While the USDA has the goal of providing nutritious meals for our nation’s youths, it also aims to boost agricultural industries that produce foods that contribute to obesity, heart disease, and cancer. For example, in a list of commodity foods offered to schools in 2002 posted by the USDA, 38 of 111 items listed are meat and eggs, and 13 are dairy products. Only one-third of foods on the commodity foods list are healthy, low-fat, cholesterol-free, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. Of these 39 foods, only five were fresh fruits and vegetables—and the only fresh vegetable available was white potatoes.
Other difficulties with the commodity program, which are discussed in the 2000 USDA’s Proposal for Change, include the uneven and unpredictable delivery of commodities, which creates storage problems, and poor communication during recalls for contaminated food, which often results in contaminated food being served to children. The USDA is currently attempting to tackle these problems by developing more long-term contracts with industries for more predictable deliveries, as well as by developing more precise procedures for safety recalls.
For a list of the commodity foods available, please visit: http://www.fns.usda.gov/fdd/schfacts.