Monday, June 7, 2010

Defense Authorization Bill Includes Support for Child Nutrition Programs

Last Thursday, the House voted on an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill. The amendment, sponsored by McGovern (D-MA), Emerson (R-MO), Bishop (D-GA), includes a “Sense of Congress” stating that hunger and obesity are impairing military recruitment and must be properly addressed by fully funding Child Nutrition Programs.

An encouraging 341 members voted to support the amendment, with only 85 voting against.

The Defense bill does not appropriate funding to the Child Nutrition Act, but it stands as a record that Congress feels that child nutrition programs should allocate an additional $10 billion over the next ten years, as requested by President Obama.

The “Sense of the Congress” amendment says “reducing domestic childhood obesity and hunger is a matter of national security. The federal Child Nutrition Programs under the Richard Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq.) and the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq.) should be funded at the President’s request; and the increases in funding for such programs should be properly offset.”

In a Washington Post article, two retired US Army Generals explain their position:
Military concerns about the fitness of our children are not new. When the National School Lunch Act was first passed in 1946, it was seen as a matter of national security. Many of our military leaders recognized that poor nutrition was a significant factor reducing the pool of qualified candidates for service.
Our country is facing another serious health crisis. Obesity rates threaten the overall health of America and the future strength of our military. We must act, as we did after World War II, to ensure that our children can one day defend our country, if need be.
Over the past month, 221 members of Congress have already sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) supporting President Obama’s request for an increase of $1 billion a year for the Child Nutrition Programs.

Thank you to the many of you who joined Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties and food banks throughout California in a postcard campaign sending the same message. This is a down payment toward achieving President Obama’s goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015.

We will keep you posted as things progress on the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act.