Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill of 2004
For the full text of the bill, go to www.thomas.loc.gov and search for S2507.
Here is a summary of the bill courtesy of the National Alliance of Nutrition and Activity (NANA):
1. Nutrition Education
The bill authorizes a new school nutrition education infrastructure component, creating state-level “Team Nutrition Networks.” It authorizes grants to states to promote healthy eating and physical activity in schools. States receiving funding through this program are required to appoint state-level coordinators to facilitate nutrition education within and across schools within their state. While this authorizing language is a good start, the program will need to be funded through the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.
2. Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program
The bill provides $9 million in mandatory funding for the Fruit and Vegetable Program, which provides free fruit and vegetable snacks to students in schools. The bill enables the program to continue in the four states and one Indian reservation already participating. It also provides funding for four additional states and two additional Indian reservations to participate in the program.
The bill requires schools to offer fluid milk in a variety of fat contents and allows them to offer lactose-free milk and soy milk if a student’s parent, guardian, or physician sends a note requesting it. The milk provision is a modest improvement over the existing law that was a de facto requirement that schools serve whole milk.
4. Junk Food in Schools (Competitive Foods)
The sale of low-nutrition foods outside of the school meal programs was the central point of heated debate in both the House and Senate Committee markups of the child nutrition bill, and it was one of the final issues to be resolved in the bill negotiations between the House and Senate. During the reauthorization process, a number of committed champions for removing junk food from schools were cultivated and emerged in the House and Senate (including Reps. Woolsey, Ryan, and Miller). One key champion is Sen. Tom Harkin, who offered an amendment on junk food in schools in the Agriculture Committee markup of the bill and planned to offer it on the Senate floor as well. He was able to secure a deal in which two out of three of the amendment’s provisions were included in the final child nutrition bill, so he chose to not offer his amendment on the Senate floor.
One component of the Harkin amendment included in the bill requires each local educational agency participating in the school meal programs to develop a local school wellness policy by the summer of 2006. The local school wellness policies should include goals for nutrition education, physical activity, nutrition guidelines for all foods sold on school campus during the school day, and a plan for measuring implementation of the wellness policy. Parents, students, school food authorities, school boards, school administrators, and the public are all to be involved in developing the local school wellness policies. The other part of the Harkin amendment included in the bill is $4 million for the USDA to work with local education agencies on establishing healthy school nutrition environments, reducing childhood obesity, and preventing chronic disease related to diet.
The bill includes language recommending that the USDA Secretary review and revise the contents of the WIC food package “as frequently as determined to be necessary” to reflect current nutrition science.
6. Nutritional Quality of Meals
Under the Team Nutrition Network section, the bill authorizes grants to selected local educational agencies to promote healthy eating and physical activity among students. These grants can be used for, among other activities, marketing healthful foods through salad bars and fruit bars, and otherwise encouraging the increased consumption of healthful foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. Grants may also be used for training food service professionals in developing more appealing and nutritious meals.