Wednesday, May 18, 2016

House Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill Would Return Junk Food to Schools

Statement of CSPI Nutrition Policy Director Margo G. Wootan
The House child nutrition reauthorization bill would roll back key progress that schools, health advocates, and the Administration have worked so hard to achieve over the last six years.  It would mean saltier school meals with fewer whole grains, with opportunities to roll back additional nutrition guidelines every three years.
The House bill would bring back junk food that has already been removed from schools.  The Smart Snacks standards would no longer apply to fundraisers or any food ever sold as a part of a meal, even cookies, chips, or other junk food.  The bill would weaken the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, allowing schools to substitute chips, sugary fruit snacks and trail mix for the fresh fruit and vegetables they now get as snacks through the program, and make it more difficult for low-income students to receive free meals.
The House child nutrition bill would set the stage for higher rates of obesity and diabetes in children.  Congress would do better to stick with the bipartisan compromise worked out in the Senate.  The Senate bill balances food service providers’ concerns with the need to support children's health.
CSPI and 750 other national, state, and local organizations strongly oppose H.R. 5003.  We urge Members of Congress to work toward a final child nutrition bill that maintains the integrity of school nutrition and the child nutrition programs and promotes children’s health.

EPA Disparages Farmers, Hinders Progress, Farm Bureau Tells Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C, May 17, 2016 – Three Farm Bureau members today called on the federal government to use more carrots and fewer sticks with farmers who care for land that has often been in their families for generations. Pennsylvania Farm Bureau President Richard Ebert, former Ohio Farm Bureau President Terry McClure and Florida Farm Bureau member Kate English testified before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry.

Ebert told the subcommittee that the Environmental Protection Agency has failed to explain its expectations in the ongoing Chesapeake Bay cleanup.

“Despite my four-year degree in animal science from a well-known and respected university and 34 years of farming while implementing modern technologies, I don’t understand EPA’s science,” Ebert said. “And no farmer can legitimately comprehend and respond to the reams of academic analyses that have been produced through these meetings and continue to perform the tasks needed to run his or her farm business.”

Ebert chided EPA for spreading false information about family farms.

“EPA and its cohorts point fingers and paint agriculture – farmers just like me – as a villain that impairs water quality in the Bay,” Ebert said. “But their accusations are in direct conflict with U.S. Geological Survey data – which showed pretty positive gains on water quality in tributaries throughout the Bay Watershed. These gains are not because of our revised Bay strategy or EPA’s model. It merely demonstrates what agriculture has been doing for decades through increased knowledge, additional opportunities, technology and time.”

McClure noted that Ohio farmers work hard to reduce runoff of excess phosphorous and nitrogen from their farms.

“Farmers have invested tens of millions of dollars of their own money in establishing conservation practices on their farms,” McClure said. “Between 2006 and 2012, they have voluntarily reduced phosphorous applications in the Western Lake Erie Basin by more than 13 million pounds. As farmers are stepping up to implement conservation practices now, they are committed to finding additional solutions in the future.”

English warned that federal regulations have become unworkably complex.

“A farmer shouldn’t have to have a lawyer and an engineer on staff to grow food,” she said.

English singled out the EPA’s controversial Waters of the United States rule as an example of bad science.

“The rule not only expands the regulatory footprint for farming and increases the uncertainty we battle daily, but it also lacks peer-reviewed sound science,” English said. “These regulations appear instead to be based on public opinion and social media trends rather than facts and science. The result is a highly unpredictable regulatory environment and uncontrolled costs when faced with compliance based on a moving target rather than a rational, science-based goal.”

Testimony of Richard Ebert:
Testimony of Terry McClure:
Testimony of Kate English:

More information about Ohio Farm Bureau’s clean water efforts can be found here:

SNA Urges a No Vote on House CNR Substitute

Block Grant Proposal Threatens Student Access to Healthy School Meals

National Harbor, MD (May 17, 2016) - The non-profit School Nutrition Association (SNA) is urging Members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee to vote against a proposed school meal block grant pilot. The measure is included in Subcommittee Chair Rokita’s substitute to H.R. 5003, the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016. The substitute is up for a vote during the committee's Wednesday markup of the bill.

On behalf of SNA's 56,000 members, who work on the frontlines in school cafeteria's nationwide, SNA President Jean Ronnei, SNS, called on Members of Congress to oppose the block grant proposal.
“For 70 years the United States has maintained a steadfast commitment to ensuring children nationwide have consistent access to healthy meals at school,” said Ronnei. “This reckless block grant proposal is the first step toward eliminating this federal guarantee that all children - including America's most vulnerable students - will have access to the nutrition they need to succeed at school."
The block grant pilot would allow three states to abandon federal requirements, including mandates on student eligibility for free and reduced price meals and nutrition standards for meals. School meal programs in participating states would lose critical funds under the proposal. For example, the block grant would not include federal reimbursements for meals provided to full paid students or the additional 6 cent lunch reimbursement earned under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Funding provided under the block grant would remain static at Fiscal Year 2016 rates for the entirety of the three year grant cycle.
"School meal programs are already under-funded, with many struggling to break even in the face of rising food and labor costs,” said Ronnei. “Block grants threaten to strip these vital programs of critical funds and rob them of the ability to respond to increased demand due to local economic downturns or rising student enrollment. Further cuts will limit services for students, compromise the quality of meals, drive up school meal prices for families and force many schools to cut into education funds to cover food service losses."
“More than 30 million students nationwide depend on school meals to nourish their bodies and minds,” said Ronnei. “America’s students cannot afford to be part of this dangerous experiment.”
SNA is advocating for increased funding for school meal programs. Visit to learn more.