USDA Secretary Outlines Child Nutrition Reauthorization Priorities at National Press Club
Yesterday, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. His speech, which focused on Child Nutrition Reauthorization, is available on the C-SPAN Web site. Click here for a transcript of his prepared remarks.
In his speech, Secretary Vilsack spoke forcefully about the Administration’s commitment to achieving the President’s goal to end childhood hunger by 2015 and about the First Lady’s initiative to reduce obesity among children. The Secretary stated, “[i]t is vitally important that we focus our energies and resources on solving both of these challenges.” He spoke about the links between stronger child nutrition programs and better education and health for children and stronger national security.
He outlined USDA priorities for reauthorization, many of which echoed priorities in the anti-hunger community. He specifically proposed reducing stigma and expanding participation in the School Breakfast Program, expanding the Afterschool Meal Program from 14 states to all states, working to encourage more sites to provide summer meals, improving the quality of food offered in schools, regulating competitive foods, strengthening school wellness policies, supporting efforts to move away from paper applications and to expand the use of direct certification, and competitive grants to states to advance successful strategies, and to states and nonprofits for systems to streamline the application process.
He concluded by saying: “In his first year in office, President Obama pulled us back from the brink of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression and worked to lay a new foundation for economic growth. He identified three key strategies to building that lasting prosperity: innovation, investment, and education. All three strategies require the next generation to be the healthiest and best educated in our history. We will not succeed if of our children aren’t learning as they should because they are hungry, and cannot achieve because they aren’t healthy. After World War II, when our future was on the line, our leaders understood that the health of our nation – of our economy, our national security, and our communities – depends on the health of our children. We would do well to remember that lesson today, and to act on it once again.”
FRAC remains committed to working with the Administration and with Congress to pass a strong reauthorization bill. FRAC believes a strong Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill must include the following priorities:
- Expand the Afterschool Meal Program to all 50 states.
- Improve the area eligibility test so more communities can operate afterschool, summer, and child care food programs.
- Provide funds to support the start-up and expansion of universal and in-classroom school breakfast programs, especially in low-income areas.
- Eliminate unnecessary paperwork that serves as a barrier to participation through data-based eligibility in schools in high-poverty areas and improved direct certification.
- Invest in Summer Nutrition Programs by providing funding for start-up, outreach, and transportation grants.
- Allow child care centers and homes the option of serving a third meal.
To learn more about Child Nutrition Reauthorization and actions you can take, visit FRAC’s Legislative Action Center.
Published: February 25, 2010