The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the dual epidemics of diet and meals insecurity dealing with American kids and households. Tomorrow, the members of the Home Training and Labor Civil Rights and Human Providers Subcommittee have a historic alternative to start to show the tide by delivering progress for the 30 million kids, largely from low-income households, who depend on the varsity lunch and breakfast program.
The Subcommittee’s June 10 hearing marks the start means of drafting laws for this system within the Home. Such laws should assure free and wholesome faculty meals for all kids.
College meals have by no means been extra vital. As colleges put together to reopen within the fall, the necessity without cost faculty meals will solely develop as extra households wrestle financially and meals and diet insecurity deepens due to the pandemic. We urge the Subcommittee to incorporate the Common College Meals Program Act of 2021 within the Little one Diet Reauthorization to supply free meals for all college students no matter their household’s earnings. This could finish “lunch shaming” and ensure no children are handled in a different way as a result of they can’t pay for his or her meal. It will additionally present monetary help to highschool diet packages which have taken on huge monetary losses to feed college students throughout the pandemic.
The upcoming Little one Diet Reauthorization—the laws that the Home will take up—should additionally strengthen the science-based diet requirements for college meals. Colleges have made important progress underneath the Wholesome, Starvation-Free Children Act of 2010. Nonetheless, they want help to maintain up with the newest Dietary Pointers for Individuals, significantly its suggestions on added sugars and sodium. CSPI led the hassle to overturn the Trump administration’s rollbacks on the diet requirements in a 2020 federal courtroom victory to guard the monumental progress colleges have made. We additionally applaud the management of Home Training and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott, who opposed weakening the requirements and has referred to as to make the requirements stronger.
Particularly, we ask Congress to set up an added sugar restrict in step with the newest DGA for college meals. Research reveals that most faculties exceeded the DGA restrict for added sugars for breakfast (92 p.c), whereas 69 p.c exceeded the restrict for lunch.
As well as, Congress ought to replace the sodium-reduction targets for college meals inside a possible timetable and set up additional sodium-reduction targets for youthful kids to comport with the Dietary Pointers.
Thankfully, the Biden administration has allowed free faculty meals for all kids by way of June, 2022, however extra have to be carried out. Colleges will even want all the assistance they’ll get to supply meals that meet the sturdy diet requirements, particularly to present meals with extra complete grains and fewer salt and added sugars. Lawmakers on the Subcommittee have the chance to make this occur.