On Capitol Hill, Taking Action for Healthy School Food

March 23, 2009

by Jean Saunders, HSC School Wellness Director

These are exciting times for school food policy, as advocates and school food leaders take their message from the cafeteria to Congress! 

This month in Washington, school food service directors from around the country gathered for the 2009 Legislative Action Conference to learn how their voices can shape school nutrition policy. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack addressed the conference attendees, urging them to continue advocating strongly for healthy school meals.  Calling childhood hunger a “moral outrage,” he asked the audience to continue working toward President Barack Obama’s goal of eliminating childhood hunger by 2015.  Secretary Vilsack vowed to improve the nutritional value of school meals and to increase funding for school meals, a step already started with the President’s budget request. (To learn more about Sec. Vilsack's approach to school meals, check out Rochelle's recent blog.)

In a separate address to the conference attendees, Ed Cooney of the Congressional Hunger Center in Washington made an important observation – that two advocacy organizations, the Child Nutrition Forum and the NANA Coalition, are working together for the first time ever on the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. (You can learn more about the Child Nutrition Act at HSC's website.)

Cooney said: “There will be a [Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization] bill; it will have nutrition standards [and] will address competitive foods standards. A reasonable conversation is ongoing.”

HSC is proud to work with both the Child Nutrition Forum and the NANA Coalition. The Child Nutrition Forum is a diverse group of national organizations that has developed a statement of principles outlining key issues to be addressed in the 2009 reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. HSC is among the hundreds of organizations that have signed on to this statement of principles.

The NANA Coalition (the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity) advocates for national policies and programs to promote healthy eating and physical activity to help reduce the illnesses and premature deaths caused by unhealthy diets and inactivity. HSC staff have been working with members of NANA to develop a set of comprehensive recommendations [pdf] for the 2009 Child Nutrition Act reauthorization.

You can be part of this advocacy by voicing your support for a healthy Child Nutrition Act!