February 03, 2005

Crapo: Child Nutrition Bill Will Benefit Idaho Students, Farmers

Measure passes Senate, will be considered by House

Washington, DC â?? Legislation passed by the Senate this week will benefit both Idaho children and agricultural producers, said Idaho Senator Mike Crapo. He praised Senate passage of S. 2507, the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, which increases fruit and vegetable consumption in schools and requires that milk continue to be offered as a part of school meals. The measure cleared the Senate early Wednesday evening without objection and will now be sent to the House for consideration.â??Every parent in America wants to make sure their children are getting the best nutrition possible,â?? Crapo said. â??It can sometimes be difficult to get children to understand the importance of good nutritional choice. As a father of five, I have muttered more than once â??eat your peasâ?? or â??clean up your plateâ??. This legislation gives children the opportunity to develop better nutritional habits, and it 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 the vegetable and dairy provisions in the bill. I am also pleased that the Lugar Pilot Program which provides summer food services will continue in Idaho. This is a win-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.The bill also continues Idahoâ??s participation in the Lugar Pilot Program, a project that provides summer food service for underprivileged children. During the summer 2002, over 652,422 meals were served to children at 165 locations around the state. 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 many 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, reimbursing family or group day care homes in rural areas for providing meals for those eligible under the Child Nutrition Act, and protecting school meal benefits for military families. The legislation was passed out of the Agriculture Committee, on which Crapo sits, in May and the bill will now be considered by the House of Representatives.# # #