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Tisch Food Center Statement on Senate Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill

The Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education, and Policy (the Tisch Food Center), Teachers College, Columbia University, are pleased that many of our recommendations have been included in the Senate Agriculture Committee’s proposed bill that lays the groundwork for strengthening nutrition education in federal child nutrition programs.

The Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education, and Policy (the Tisch Food Center), Teachers College, Columbia University, applauds Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow for brokering a bipartisan bill that lays the groundwork for strengthening nutrition education in federal child nutrition programs. We especially appreciate the efforts of New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. We encourage Chairman Kline and Ranking Member Scott of the House Education and the Workforce Committee to pass a similarly bipartisan bill and hope the Senate brings the bill to a vote soon.  

The Tisch Food Center cultivates research about connections between a just, sustainable food system and healthy eating, and translates it into recommendations and resources for educators, policy makers, and community advocates. As experts on school-based nutrition education and co-conveners of the New York City Alliance for Child Nutrition Reauthorization (NYC4CNR), the Tisch Food Center published recommendations to Congress for the 2015 Child Nutrition Reauthorization. We are pleased that many of our recommendations have been included in the Senate Agriculture Committee’s proposed bill, contributing to legislation that can improve children’s’ health outcomes and foster healthy eating habits for a lifetime. Specifically:

  1. Assess the effectiveness of and coordination between nutrition education within the Child Nutrition Programs as well as programs implemented through other agencies throughout the federal government that include nutrition education. The proposed bill would mandate a study on the state of nutrition education in federal programs, laying the groundwork for having education that empowers our nation’s children to make healthy choices.
  2. Provide additional resources, including breastfeeding support, for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to meet demand and maximize the cost savings of this program. The proposed bill would extend eligibility for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to children up to age six, closing the nutrition gap for children who do not enter kindergarten by their fifth birthday.
  3. Implement the 2015 Farm to School Act to help meet school districts’ demand for nutrition education programs that teach children about food from the farm to the fork. The proposed bill would double available funding for the Farm to School program from $5 to $10 million, to better meet the demand for grants that assist schools in purchasing local food, providing nutrition education, and establishing and maintaining school gardens.

Since nutrition education and access to healthy food are most effective when they work together, we are pleased to see that gains made for nutrition standards in the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act are largely maintained. We hope that expedited rulemaking on sodium and whole grain standards called for in the bill will be based in science, and will be supportive of the 97% of school districts that are already meeting updated nutrition standards from the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.

The proposed bill also contains some areas of concern, particularly the definition for nutrition education in the context of the Team Nutrition program. The bill would define nutrition education as “the provision of individual or group learning opportunities and materials that emphasize the relationship among nutrition, physical activity, and health with a goal of improving long-term dietary and physical health and increasing food security.” This definition does not reflect the most current consensus in the scientific literature on the definition of nutrition education. We urge the Senate Committee on Agriculture to strike this definition, and instead charge USDA with defining nutrition education in the context of Team Nutrition.  

The Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016 represents a step towards providing high-quality, evidence-based nutrition education that will maximize the federal investment in child nutrition programs.  We hope that the findings of the mandated study on nutrition education in federal programs will serve as an impetus for increased investment in and coordination of nutrition education programs going forward.

Published Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016

Tisch Food Center Statement on Senate Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill

The Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education, and Policy (the Tisch Food Center), Teachers College, Columbia University, applauds Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow for brokering a bipartisan bill that lays the groundwork for strengthening nutrition education in federal child nutrition programs. We especially appreciate the efforts of New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. We encourage Chairman Kline and Ranking Member Scott of the House Education and the Workforce Committee to pass a similarly bipartisan bill and hope the Senate brings the bill to a vote soon.  

The Tisch Food Center cultivates research about connections between a just, sustainable food system and healthy eating, and translates it into recommendations and resources for educators, policy makers, and community advocates. As experts on school-based nutrition education and co-conveners of the New York City Alliance for Child Nutrition Reauthorization (NYC4CNR), the Tisch Food Center published recommendations to Congress for the 2015 Child Nutrition Reauthorization. We are pleased that many of our recommendations have been included in the Senate Agriculture Committee’s proposed bill, contributing to legislation that can improve children’s’ health outcomes and foster healthy eating habits for a lifetime. Specifically:

  1. Assess the effectiveness of and coordination between nutrition education within the Child Nutrition Programs as well as programs implemented through other agencies throughout the federal government that include nutrition education. The proposed bill would mandate a study on the state of nutrition education in federal programs, laying the groundwork for having education that empowers our nation’s children to make healthy choices.
  2. Provide additional resources, including breastfeeding support, for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to meet demand and maximize the cost savings of this program. The proposed bill would extend eligibility for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to children up to age six, closing the nutrition gap for children who do not enter kindergarten by their fifth birthday.
  3. Implement the 2015 Farm to School Act to help meet school districts’ demand for nutrition education programs that teach children about food from the farm to the fork. The proposed bill would double available funding for the Farm to School program from $5 to $10 million, to better meet the demand for grants that assist schools in purchasing local food, providing nutrition education, and establishing and maintaining school gardens.

Since nutrition education and access to healthy food are most effective when they work together, we are pleased to see that gains made for nutrition standards in the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act are largely maintained. We hope that expedited rulemaking on sodium and whole grain standards called for in the bill will be based in science, and will be supportive of the 97% of school districts that are already meeting updated nutrition standards from the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.

The proposed bill also contains some areas of concern, particularly the definition for nutrition education in the context of the Team Nutrition program. The bill would define nutrition education as “the provision of individual or group learning opportunities and materials that emphasize the relationship among nutrition, physical activity, and health with a goal of improving long-term dietary and physical health and increasing food security.” This definition does not reflect the most current consensus in the scientific literature on the definition of nutrition education. We urge the Senate Committee on Agriculture to strike this definition, and instead charge USDA with defining nutrition education in the context of Team Nutrition.  

The Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016 represents a step towards providing high-quality, evidence-based nutrition education that will maximize the federal investment in child nutrition programs.  We hope that the findings of the mandated study on nutrition education in federal programs will serve as an impetus for increased investment in and coordination of nutrition education programs going forward.

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