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Weighing Healthier Options

Nutrition bill passes U.S. House
Illinois School Board Newsbulletin, May 2004

The U.S. House of Representatives, on a vote of 419 to 5, passed and sent to the Senate a new Child Nutrition Improvement and Integrity Act (H.R. 3873) on March 24. The bill seeks to reauthorize programs under the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 through fiscal year 2008, as well as address child obesity concerns.

To combat obesity, the bill stipulates that by 2006 school districts must implement a local wellness policy that outlines goals for nutrition education and physical activity, nutrition guidelines for foods sold in schools and an implementation plan.

The proposed act also seeks to implement a number of changes that supporters say will make it easier for eligible children to get nutritious meals while bolstering the integrity of the programs that supply the meals.

Provisions of the bill include:

  • Shifting the responsibility for approving free and reduced-price meal applications from the School Food Authority (SFA) to the local school district, which would also be accountable for the accuracy of benefit determinations.
  • Simplifying the application process for parents and guardians by allowing them to fill out one application for multiple children, and by granting year-long certification.
  • Adding fruits and vegetables to the list of preferred agricultural commodities bought by the Department of Agriculture and supporting partnerships between schools and local produce farms.
  • Encouraging the use of technology in order to cut back on human error, increase efficiency and eliminate the stigma associated with receiving free and reduced price meals.

Weighing Healthier Options

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