Yesterday Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack previewed the Obama Administration’s priorities for the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which addresses Federal Child Nutrition Programs.

The Child Nutrition Act reauthorization is currently being considered by Congress. The legislation is renewed every five years and provides an outline for the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs which serve more than 31 million school children in over 100,000 schools across the country.

The Administration’s priorities include eliminating barriers that keep children from participating in school nutrition programs, improving the quality of meals, and enhancing program performance.

This week the Institute of Medicine released a study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that found children are not eating enough dark green vegetables, fruits, or whole grains.

The findings of the study are in tune with the Administration’s clear priority to promote healthier eating and fruit and vegetable consumption.

Reauthorization of the bill was originally expected to be taken up this fall, but it has since been pushed back till after the holidays.

If the federal school nutrition programs are transitioned to provide more fruits and vegetables and raw food for students, there will likely have to be ramped up food handling training, as raw food presents different risks than microwavable pizzas and highly processed french fries.

  • Jessica Dow

    I’d like to know how many genetically modified foods make it into the school lunch program.
    Children’s bodies develop at a fast pace and are more likely to be influenced and show the effects of genetically modified (GM) foods. That is why independent scientists used young adolescent rats in their GM feeding studies. The rats showed significant health damage after only 10 days, including damaged immune systems and digestive function, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partial atrophy of the liver, and potentially pre-cancerous cell growth in the intestines.
    Milk and dairy products from cows treated with the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rbGH) contain an increased amount of the hormone IGF-1, which is one of the highest risk factors associated with breast and prostate cancer. Sam Epstein, M.D., Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition and author of eight books, wrote, “rbGH and its digested products could be absorbed from milk into blood, particularly in infants, and produce hormonal and allergic effects.” He described how “cell-stimulating growth factors . . . could induce premature growth and breast stimulation in infants, and possibly promote breast cancer in adults.” Dr. Epstein pointed out that the hormones in cows could promote the production of “steroids and adrenaline-type stressor chemicals . . . likely to contaminate milk and may be harmful, particularly to infants and young children.”
    Children prone to ear and other infections are at risk of facing antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, due to the use of antibiotic resistant genes in GM food. The British Medical Association cited this as one reason why they called for a moratorium of GM foods.
    I’d like to see Tom Vilsack put the need for children’s health and safety above the needs of companies such as Monsanto.
    It’s time this administration starts answering some tough questions about this country’s policies concerning pesticides and genetically modified foods.