Tell congress to pass the child nutrition bill today!
In the next 36 hours, the House is set to vote on the much anticipated Child Nutrition Re-authorization Act (CNR). Tomorrow, on September 30th, the bill will expire if Congress does not act. If that happens, our kids will lose out on the best shot they’ve got at improving the quality of their school lunches.
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Urgent: Can you take a moment today for children?
In the next 36 hours, the House is set to vote on the much anticipated Child Nutrition Re-authorization Act (CNR). For over a year now, America’s children have been waiting on this vote, and tomorrow, on September 30th, the bill will expire if Congress does not act. If that happens, our children will lose out on the best shot they’ve got at improving the quality of their school lunches, and along with it, their health.
Although this bill has been at the heart of much criticism, it is our last best hope to address childhood hunger, set limits on junk food in the schools and provide mandatory funding for farm to school programs this year. 
It is so urgent that we are asking you to not only sign a letter to your Representative in congress, but also to make a call today urging them not to ignore this important bipartisan piece of legislation. Can you take a moment for America’s children right now?
Click here to send an urgent email to your U.S. Representative.
What does Child Nutrition Act provide?
- Mandatory funding for grants to assist in establishing Farm to School programs. ($40 million over 8 years)
- Establishes national nutrition standards for all foods sold on school campuses (including vending machines)
- Improves access for low income and poverty level students to school nutrition programs
- Expands the after school meal program, including authorizing Summer Food Grant Support
- A 6 cent increase per school meal
- $10 million for an Organic Food Pilot Program that authorizes competitive grants for lower income school districts to purchase organic food for their menus
The Child Nutrition Act is important legislation that we can no longer afford to deny our children. First Lady Michelle Obama has recognized this from the beginning of her husband’s presidency, working as a powerful advocate to end childhood obesity within this generation.  It’s no wonder. According to The Centers for Disease Control, one-third of all children born in the year 2000 will be overweight, obese or contract diabetes. Even worse, these children will be the first in our nation’s history to die at a younger age than their parents, if we don’t reverse this disturbing trend. 
There’s no better reason than that to advocate for better school lunch programs, which not only build children’s health and address hunger, but also create opportunities for new and beginning farmers through Farm to School programs.
Farm to School
Farm to School programs provide children the opportunity to eat seasonal and local fruits and vegetables, creating the potential to enhance children’s overall health and lifelong dietary habits. With current Farm to School programs in place, giving access to farm fresh food, schools have reported a 3 to 16% increase in school meal participation among students, giving them a connection to where their food comes from and improving academic performance.
In addition, Farm to School programs keep local dollars in the community, provide jobs, and market opportunity for small and midsized farmers; something Food Democracy Now! advocated for in February 2009 when we were the first organization in the sustainable food community to sit down with Secretary Vilsack in his office at the USDA in Washington DC.
Now is the time to enact this important measure, which builds healthy kids and healthy rural communities.
Click here to send an urgent email to your U.S. Representative.
The Tale of Two Bills
A great deal of concern has been raised over the incremental but crucial differences between the House and Senate bills for the re-authorization of the Child Nutrition Act. One hotly contested difference is that the Senate version takes $2.2 billion in funding away from the SNAP or Supplemental Nutritional Access Program (formerly known as food stamps).  While this is an area of deep concern, leaving one to question the integrity of every U.S. Senator, it is, at this point, a politically unavoidable reality.
Those in favor of the House bill are also extremely discouraged at the cut in funding for the breakfast program from the Senate version, not to mention the dramatic reduction in funds budgeted for the Farm to School program. The House version grants $10 million per year for Farm to School programs over 5 years, while the Senate version of the bill only allows $5 million per year over 8 years. Also, notably absent from the Senate version is the expansion of food safety requirements. Worth noting is the appallingly low figure that both the House and Senate granted in the bill at a mere 6 cents per meal for America’s school children. 
With 12 percent of children ages 2 to 5 already obese, not to mention the fact that food insecurity is at it’s highest rate since the USDA starting keeping stats in 1995, certainly, we could do better. 
The Child Nutrition Act has held much promise for our nation’s children, let’s not fail them any longer. Our kids deserve better than the status quo that has brought them obesity and malnutrition.
We know that we can no longer afford to wait to give our children the nutrition they deserve. For many, this is the main meal of their day and it’s time that Congress treat America’s children like the precious national resource for our future that they are.
Even though this bill enjoys broad support from NGO’s, the First Lady, military generals and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack , it could go down in flames alongside other vital pieces of legislation this year, such as the climate change bill, if you don’t take action today.
Today, we need to say, “Not on our watch!”
Don’t fail kids today. Please take a moment and join us!
Be a Hero today to our kids by clicking here to send a letter to your Representative in Congress, then make a quick call.
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1. Senate bill S. 3307 – 111th Congress, The Library of Congress.
2. “Healthy, and Safe, School Lunches”, Michelle Obama; Editorial New York Times; April 4, 2010.
3. P”revalence of High Body Mass Index in US Children and Adolescents, 2007-2008″ The Journal of the American Medical Association, January 20, 2010.
4. “Critics call child nutrition bill counterproductive”, NPR, September 29, 2010.
5. “A modest proposal for congress: Ditch the extra spending for school lunch, Ed Bruske, Grist, September 28, 2010.
6. “Food insecurity rising in America”, Newsweek, August 8, 2010.
7.”100 Retired Generals and Admirals, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Urge Congress to Pass Child Nutrition Bill As Matter of National Security”, Mission Readiness, September 21, 2010.