November 18, 2010

Call Congress to Support Child Nutrition Bill

Author: Dave Krepcho

Call Congress to Support Child Nutrition Bill Dear Friend of the Food Bank:
We need your help in a very important way. The Food Bank typically does not ask for folks to call Congress, however, this is a time-sensitive, critical issue for alleviating childhood hunger and improving nutrition.

The child nutrition bill before Congress is in danger of not passing.  We are engaged along with other Food Banks across the country and Feeding America in an effort to pass the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (S.3307).  Right now, there is one thing that you can do to help:

Call Congress  –   Just dial 877-698-8228 to be directly connected to your Representative’s office and deliver this message:
“Congress must pass the child nutrition bill this year. Do not go home without passing the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act (S.3307).”

Calling your Representative will help us keep up the pressure on Congress to pass the child nutrition bill.  And remember, one call is not enough—ask your staff, volunteers, partners and supporters to make a call.

There is a sense of urgency for this call because time is running out for Congress before the 111th Congress ends this calendar year. Only a couple of weeks remain. If you know members of Congress and have access to them while they are home for Thanksgiving, please make the request for passage of S. 3307.

If you are interested in more detail on this bill and some background, we’ve provided the following:

This bill is the bipartisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (S. 3307). We are disappointed that this was not reauthorized by September 30. It is imperative that the reauthorization be completed this year, and we urge Congress and the Administration to act.

We are also concerned by the recent divisiveness surrounding this reauthorization and its potential to put passage of the child nutrition bill at risk. This reauthorization is not a choice between addressing child hunger or childhood obesity. It is a chance to significantly improve nutrition for all children. Far too many children – especially low-income children – lack the nutrition they need to be healthy and successful in school and on the playground. By improving opportunities for healthy meals in and out of school, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act would take a step forward in addressing both child hunger and obesity: S. 3307 would help reduce hunger and increase children’s access to healthy meals by expanding the supper program from 14 to all 50 states, better connecting eligible children with free school meals, extending the WIC certification period for children to one year, and improving opportunities for mothers to fully breastfeed their infants. The bill would fund demonstration projects to test innovative strategies for ending child hunger – including alternate models of service – and support research into the causes and consequences of childhood hunger. The bill also authorizes grants to retain summer food program sponsors, improve and expand breakfast programs, and encourage states to develop comprehensive strategies to end child hunger.

S. 3307 would make progress against childhood obesity and improve the nutritional quality of meals by strengthening nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools, providing schools with increased resources and training to improve meal quality, and supporting farm-to-school programs and school gardens. The bill would also establish nutrition requirements and provide technical assistance to help child care providers improve the health of young children.

Even with the important progress made by S. 3307, more must be done to reach the goals of ending child hunger by 2015 and solving childhood obesity in a generation. We appreciate the new commitment that Agriculture Secretary Vilsack made to use his administrative authority to further improve access to the school lunch and breakfast programs.

As Congress and the Administration continue working toward these goals, first on the list must be improving access to child nutrition programs and protecting SNAP families:

Of the more than 19 million low-income children participating in free or reduced-price lunch, less than half eat school breakfast and only 16 percent access a summer food program. Most high-poverty school districts cannot meet the demand for local weekend feeding programs. S. 3307 would not fully address gaps during weekends, summers, and breakfasts, and more is needed to ensure vulnerable children have access to healthy meals. Congress and the Administration should identify alternative vehicles to establish the weekend feeding pilot and expand the year-round simplification of summer and afterschool programs included in H.R. 5504, and should fully fund the summer, breakfast, and child hunger grants authorized in S. 3307.

Locally, Central Florida has a higher rate of childhood food insecurity than the national average; approximately 1 in 4 children are in this category. The numbers are not declining, they are increasing. Last year, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida provided enough food for 17 million meals — of that total; approximately 4 million meals were consumed by kids.

We will continue to source as much food as possible and get it to the people most in need with local resources, creativity, innovation and efficiency. However, Congress has a critical role to play to pass this legislation…we cannot do it alone. If it is not passed, billions of dollars can be lost.

Thank you for your support over the years and thank you for taking the time to read this far. We are committed to ending hunger and improving nutrition for all children.

Thank you,
Dave Krepcho
President/CEO
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida

407-295-1066, ext. 38   dkrepcho@foodbankcentralflorida.org



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One Response to “Call Congress to Support Child Nutrition Bill”

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