5.2.2016 On April 20th, Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, introduced the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 (H.R. 5003). The chairman is stating that this bill, the House’s version of a Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill, will “reform the child nutrition programs in a way that provides access to healthy meals” â€“ we won’t be fooled.
This bill would hurt children by weakening the child nutrition programs and balancing the cost of any small benefits on the backs of low-income children. CFPA asks you to join us in telling our Representatives that H.R. 5003 is unacceptable â€“ the committee needs to start over. Here are three critical ways H.R. 5003 hurts children in California:
- Limits eligible students’ participation in the school meal programs. Rather than increasing access to the school meal programs as the chairman has suggested, H.R. 5003 would (a) make hundreds of California schools ineligible for the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which enables schools to offer breakfast and lunch free of charge to all students; (b) increase the number of applications that must be verified and alter verification procedures in ways that inevitably would cause eligible students to lose access to free and reduced-price school meals; and (c) limit schools’ ability to effectively conduct outreach.
Rolls back progress on school nutrition. The House bill identifies new criteria that must be considered in establishing nutrition standards. These criteria ultimately undermine student health and are counter to both science and practicality. Furthermore, the bill undermines the intent and nutritional benefits of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program by allowing schools to replace fresh produce with dried (no sugar limit), canned (no sodium or sugar limit), and frozen varieties.
- Denies California an opportunity to address summer hunger. We know that Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer for Children (SEBTC) works, but it’s not at work in California. SEBTC fights childhood hunger by providing low-income families with nutrition assistance benefits (on an EBT card) to purchase groceries during the summer months when kids lose access to nutritious, affordable school meals. Last year Rep. Susan Davis (CA-53) introduced the Stop Child Summer Hunger Act of 2015, which would have ensured low-income children across the country have access to SEBTC. Instead, H.R. 5003 limits the reach of Summer EBT for Children: only three states (Michigan, Nevada, and Texas) and the Cherokee and Chickasaw Nations would be eligible to participate.
The Committee has taken the historically bipartisan child nutrition programs and politicized them at the cost of more hungry children and less healthy meals. Here are some simple ways you can defend these critically important programs:
- Local, state, and national organizations can sign on to this letter opposing H.R. 5003. Please respond by Friday, May 6. link
- Individuals can call or send an e-mail to your local Representative.
- Find your Representative: link
- Feel free to personalize and adapt the following script to use for an e-mail or phone call:
My name is (name) and I live in (city), California. I am writing/calling to strongly urge you to reject the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 (H.R. 5003), which, unlike its name suggests, would roll back healthy nutrition standards for school meals and snacks, decrease access to healthy meals for low-income children, and deny California the opportunity to implement Summer EBT for Children.
Nearly 2.5 million children live in food-insecure households in California. For those vulnerable children, meals served at school are a critical resource — and may be the only nutritious meals they receive all day. Eligible students’ access to these healthy meals supports their growth and development and boosts their academic success. H.R. 5003 counters these benefits by:
- Limiting eligible students’ participation in the school meal programs through harsh changes to the Community Eligibility Provision, increasing verification that will inevitably cause eligible students to lose access to free and reduced-price school meals, and restricting schools’ ability to effectively conduct outreach.
- Rolling back progress on school meal nutrition standards, which nearly all California schools are meeting; and
- Denying California the opportunity to implement Summer EBT for Children – a highly effective strategy for reducing childhood hunger during summer months.
H.R. 5003 harms California’s most vulnerable children. Please consider the importance of the vital child nutrition programs and let me know that I can count on you to oppose H.R. 5003.
Take action today! Please share this post with your colleagues and friends.
Questions? Contact Elyse Homel Vitale at 510.433.1122 ext. 206.