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Association policy advanced in child nutrition law

Washington—Congress passed and the president Dec. 13 signed into law ADA-backed child nutrition legislation.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 is seen as an aid in helping:

  • Prevent early childhood tooth decay by requiring the WIC program (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children) to enhance breastfeeding education and promote exemplary breastfeeding support practices, and
  • Curb youth soft drink consumption by requiring local educational agencies participating in the National School Lunch Program to establish and maintain local wellness policies that promote healthy school foods and healthy eating behaviors, and requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish science-based nutrition standards for all foods and beverages sold in schools, including those sold outside the school cafeteria, for example in vending machines, at school stores or a la carte.

The Association by policy supported somewhat similar House and Senate bills and the bipartisan compromise negotiated by the lame-duck 111th Congress and embraced by the president and first lady at a D.C. public school bill-signing ceremony rather than in the traditional White House setting.

The ADA House of Delegates in Res. 37H-2009 called on the Association to “encourage continued support for federal nutrition and food assistance programs that provide nutrition services and education for infants, children, pregnant and parenting women, the elderly, and other vulnerable group” and to “encourage the appropriate government agencies to restrict access to non-nutritious foodstuffs that contribute to the advancement of tooth decay under federal nutrition and food assistance programs.”

ADA officials in communications with members of Congress urged support for this “important step toward reducing youth soft drink consumption, promoting healthier breastfeeding practices and encouraging the purchase of healthier foods in federal food aid programs.” More information is available online at ADA nutrition advocacy.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act authorizes funding for federal school meal and child nutrition programs and increases access to healthy food for low-income children. The bill passed by Congress reauthorizes child nutrition programs for five years and includes $4.5 billion in new funding for these programs over 10 years, according to the White House fact sheet.