From the Kitchen to the Congress: A Child Nutrition Reauthorization Blog

Woolsey Introduces Competitive Foods Legislation

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With debate surrounding the economic recovery and stimulus package over, lawmakers are beginning to turn their attention to other issues facing the Congress this session.  Late last week, Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) reintroduced legislation that would regulate the sale of foods sold outside of the federal school nutrition programs.  H.R. 1324, the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act of 2009 is among the first of many bills to be introduced ahead of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization later this year. 

The current bill is very similar to legislation introduced in the 109th and 110th Congresses by Representative Woolsey.  It would update the definition of Foods of Minimal Nutritional Value (FMNV) to correspond with current nutrition science.  The bill would also expand the time and place rule, allowing the Secretary of Agriculture to have authority over competitive foods (foods and beverages sold on the school campus during the school day that compete with the nutritious offering of the National School Lunch Program.)  SNA has long advocated that all foods served and sold in school should be held to an appropriate and consistent nutrition standard. Failure to apply the same rules to all foods sold/served on campus throughout the school day erodes the efforts schools are making to ensure the nutritional quality and value of school meals offered inside the cafeteria.

The Woolsey bill addresses nutrition standards for foods served outside (and therefore not part of) the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). The NSLP and SBP nutrition standards and meal pattern requirements are updated by the US Department of Agriculture and are required by law to be consistent with the goals of the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

SNA supports the creation of a consistent, national nutrition standard for all foods served during the school day.  Consistent standards are needed to promote wellness and send a clear message to students. SNA supports the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act as an important step in the right direction. Along with SNA, the following other groups support H.R. 1324: American Dental Association, American Diabetes Association, American Dietetic Association, American Heart Association, Partnership for Prevention, Save the Children, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest.  To view a copy of the legislation, please click here.

Approximately 89 members of Congress are co-sponsoring H.R. 1324, the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act of 2009.  A Senate version of the legislation will be released in the coming weeks.

Since the start of the first session of Congress in January, at least 6 bills related to school nutrition have been introduced.  At least three (H.R. 176, H.R. 501, and H.R. 540) seek to expand access to the program through summer feeding programs or expanded eligibility guidelines.  Two bills (H.R. 1378 and companion bill S. 456) would require state departments of health to develop voluntary guidelines to help schools manage food allergies and anaphylaxis.   Like the Woolsey bill, this legislation has been introduced in previous sessions by Representative Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.).  More bills are likely to come.  In a speech during last week’s Legislative Action Conference, Representative Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) discussed a bill he is writing that bring sweeping changes to the school nutrition programs, including providing universal meals.

H.R. 1324, the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act of 2009