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Strain says Improve Child Nutrition Programs

November 20, 2009

Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., says the reauthorization of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Child Nutrition Programs are critical to combat child hunger and improve health and nutrition in children in Louisiana and the rest of the country.
Strain said this is the opportunity to press for the inclusion of more fresh fruit and vegetables into the programs.
“For many children here in Louisiana and the rest of the country, the meal a child gets at school is often the best, most nutritious and healthy meal they’ll receive all day,” Strain said. “According to USDA’s Economic Research Service reports, many Americans, nearly 50 million, including 16 million children, worry about how they’ll get their next meal. It’s called food insecurity.  
“The USDA says in more than a half-million families with children, one or more children don’t get enough to eat. Families are forced to cut the size of their meals, skip meals or go whole days without food at some time during the year. This is simply unacceptable in a nation as wealthy and productive as the United States.”
Strain said Congress is re-examining the three laws that govern child nutrition programs: the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, Child Nutrition Act of 1966 and Child Nutrition and WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Reauthorization Act of 2004. The legislation was set to expire on Sept. 30, 2009, but Congress extended the deadline for one year.
“The National School Lunch Program serves 31 million school children in more than 100,000 schools in all 50 states every day,” Strain said. “More than 11 million children participate in the School Breakfast Program daily.
“In Louisiana, more than 520,000 children at 1,600 locations participate in the programs. It’s important to continue our support and get more fresh fruits and vegetables into these nutrition programs.
“The legislation is critical for nutrition, health promotion, educational opportunity and economic development.”
Also included in the Child Nutrition Programs are Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, Summer Food Service Program, WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and the Special Milk Program.