Thursday, May 29, 2014

Letter from United Fresh to House Appropriations Committee



May 28, 2014
The Honorable Hal Rogers
Chairman
House Committee on Appropriations
The Capitol, H-305
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Robert Aderholt
Chairman
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural
Development, Food and Drug Administration House Committee on Appropriations
2362A Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Nita Lowey
Ranking Member
House Committee on Appropriations
2365 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Sam Farr
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural
Development, Food and Drug Administration House Committee on Appropriations
1126 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members:
Tomorrow, the Appropriations Committee takes up the Agricultural Appropriations bill brought forward from the Ag Subcommittee last week. On the matter of school meals and implementation of the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, we urge you to support a compromise that gives schools greater support and technical assistance, without gutting the critical nutrition standards through the blanket waivers now contained in the bill.
An essential component of today’s nutritional standards is that school meals must include one-half cup of fruits and vegetables as part of the reimbursable meal. This is a minimal requirement that any of us as parents would support as we strive to help educate our children about healthy meals, just as we educate them in math and science.
We understand why some school leaders have been frustrated. Foodservice staff in our schools are often the unrecognized heroes who work hard to stretch inadequate dollars, often without adequate facilities and equipment such as salad bars, and still deliver quality meals to kids every day.
But since the subcommittee action last week, numerous school foodservice leaders, parent-teacher organizations and even our proud military veterans are speaking out that the solution is not to gut the nutrition standards, but to help schools with technical support. We encourage you to listen to these responsible voices.
The fresh produce industry stands ready to support school foodservice directors in implementing the fruit and vegetable requirements. Serving one-half cup of fruits and vegetables, in ways that kids love and want to eat, is one goal that we are already accomplishing together. We commit to providing school foodservice directors with technical assistance, training in produce procurement and handling, and sharing best practices of what’s working in thousands of schools across the country.
This should not be a partisan issue for rancorous debate. We can all stand together to put the health of America’s children first, while giving schools the technical support they need to comply with these very basic standards. Please do not vote to cut out one-half cup of fruits
and vegetables from school meals. Without at least one serving of a fruit or vegetable, I don’t believe we could even call it a meal.
We urge you to support any amendments in the full Committee that would preserve these critical nutrition standards.
Sincerely,
Thomas E. Stenzel
President and CEO
Cc: Members of the House Committee on Appropriations

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