With the number of overweight children between the ages of six and 11 having more than doubled in the past 20 years, healthy food advocates are urging Congress to make sure that federal child nutrition programs are updated to meet the challenges of providing healthy meals to the nation’s children.
In 2004, President Bush signed a law that reauthorized and updated all federal programs that determine which foods can be served to children by schools and child care providers. The programs expire later this year and have to be reauthorized by Congress.
In December, a group of national organizations released “Statement of Principles for Child Nutrition Reauthorization” that they say should guide Congress in reauthorizing the child nutrition programs. The principles include:
- Increasing access to the child nutrition programs, particularly for underserved and low-income children;
- Enhancing nutrition quality to address rising child obesity rates and related health problems; and
- Updating and simplifying child nutrition programs to improve efficiency.
The child nutrition programs are administered through the Department of Agriculture. Listen to a radio interview with Tom Vilsack, recently confirmed as the secretary of agriculture, where he discusses the new priorities of the department.