February 02, 2005

Crapo: Child Nutrition Bill Good For Students, Farmers

Number of provisions to benefit Idaho

Washington, DC â?? Citing its numerous benefits to Idaho children and agricultural producers, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo spoke out in favor of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill during a Senate Agriculture Committee mark-up hearing today. The bill includes several provisions on issues that Crapo has advocated, including increased fruit and vegetable consumption in schools and requirements that milk continue to be offered as a part of school meals. â??As a father of five, I understand the importance of good nutrition in child development, as well as helping a child to remain alert throughout the course of a school day,â?? Crapo, a member of the Agriculture Committee, said. â??This legislation makes great strides to ensure the nutrition of children across the nation. It provides the needed support for existing child nutrition programs while fostering the development of improvements. In addition, Idaho milk, fruit, and vegetable producers will benefit from provisions in the bill. This is a win-win proposal for students, schools, and agriculture.â??The legislation maintains the requirement that schools offer milk as a nutritional part of school meals. In addition, it would create more flexibility for students and families by permitting a substitute beverage to be offered on the basis of a parentâ??s note rather than a physicianâ??s statement in cases of special dietary needs, such as lactose intolerance.Additionally, the bill would extend and expand the Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program, a program designed to place domestically grown fruits and vegetables in schools as healthy snacks. Crapo, along with Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, introduced a similar measure in July 2003. The pilot program, which has strong support from agricultural producers and the education community, was found to increase attention in class, reduce consumption of less healthy food, and increase awareness and preference for a variety of fruits and vegetables. â??At a time when there are so many concerns about increasing obesity rates, the Fruit and Vegetable Program will encourage healthy eating habits among our students,â?? Crapo added. â??The pilot program demonstrated a number of successes.â??The bill contains a number of other provisions designed to benefit low-income students including: providing a pilot program to eliminate the "reduced price" lunch category in favor of free and full price lunch only, lowering the income cap for free lunch eligibility, facilitating access to nutritious meals during the summer months, and reimbursing family or group day care homes in rural areas for providing meals for those eligible under the Child Nutrition Act.The legislation was passed out of committee by voice vote. It now awaits consideration by the full Senate. # # #