Appropriations

FY2015 Agriculture Appropriations

Protect School Meal Nutrition Standards and the WIC Food Package

As both the House and Senate move on their respective FY2015 Agriculture spending bills, it is critically important for advocates to push back on all efforts to weaken the child nutrition programs. Both bills include provisions that would critically weaken the child nutrition programs by having Congress – not science – determine nutrition standards.

TAKE TWO STEPS TO PROTECT SCHOOL MEALS AND WIC:

Call and Urge your Members of Congress to:

  • School Meals – Speak out on the House floor and vote for amendments that support the critical role that decades of independent, science-based standards and recommendations have had on the school meals. Oppose proposals that delay or dilute the nutrition standards for school meals.
  • WIC – Speak out on the House floor against overriding science and support the critical role that decades of independent, science-based standards and recommendations have had on the WIC program.  Oppose proposals that circumvent the independent review of the WIC food package by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

BACKGROUND

There are two bills that will be considered in the next few weeks. The House bill would require the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to permit waivers to schools demonstrating revenue losses and allow them to opt out of implementing the new school nutrition standards.

The Senate bill instructs USDA to review whether there is a significant quantity or quality of whole grain products currently available to allow schools to plan menus that are compliant with the new whole grain requirements.  The Senate bill also:  provides USDA 90 days to render technical assistance to school districts to help identify alternate whole-grain products; instructs USDA to create a comprehensive plan to provide enhanced training and technical assistance to schools to meet the new school meals standards and reduce plate waste; and stops regulations to further reduce sodium levels in school meals, holding sodium reductions to level 1 targets.

The House bill would also allow white potatoes in the WIC food package without requiring further agency review. The Senate bill also permits white potatoes in the WIC food package but instructs USDA to perform an expedited review of the full food package.

The House efforts are being framed as providing more “flexibility” – but in reality, they would only undermine nutrition standards for WIC and school meals (both for meals and for competitive foods) and have Congress override science.

As Congress debates these bills, it is critically important for advocates to push back on all efforts to weaken the child nutrition programs.

RESOURCES