Amendment aims to fortify nutrition standards in schools

It isn’t often that a lead industry group and a consumer watchdog group advocate for legislation together in Washington. But whatever our other differences, we agree that the country needs strong, national school-nutrition standards. Now, we urge the Senate to join with the hundred health and education groups and dozen food and beverage companies working to improve nutrition in our schools.

Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) plan to offer an amendment to the farm bill to update the nutrition standards for foods sold out of vending machines, school stores and a la carte in school cafeterias. The proposed standards would limit school beverages to water, low-fat milk and juice in elementary and middle schools. In high schools, those beverages and low-calorie drinks could be sold, plus sports drinks near the gym. The amendment would also set standards for calories, fats, salt and sugars, and ensure that school foods provide key vitamins and minerals.

Schools are special places where we can teach our children how to have a healthy lifestyle through good nutrition and physical activity. That is why parents and health groups want improvements in school foods. The school nutrition amendment has the support of over 100 health and education groups, including the American Medical Association, American Dietetic Association, American Public Health Association, American Dental Association, American Federation of Teachers, American Association of School Administrators, and the National PTA.

The beverage industry — including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Cadbury Schweppes — is among the many food and beverage companies supporting this amendment. Others include Nestle, Mars, Frito-Lay, General Mills, McCain Foods, Dannon, National Milk Producers Federation, and International Dairy Foods Association.

Congress should not leave the full burden of improving school foods and childhood obesity to localities. In addition to creating a patchwork of disparate standards throughout the country, leaving school foods entirely to local control means continuing to rely on disco-era national standards that no longer make sense.

One policy is not the sole answer to addressing childhood obesity.  We all have a role to play – including parents, health professionals, governments, and corporate America. 

Harkin-Murkowski-Carper-Cornyn is bipartisan, as senators from all over the country have heard from parents in favor of healthy school foods.  And, schools are finding that they can maintain much-needed revenues selling healthier options.

Given the sky-high obesity rates, the time to act is now.  If our two organizations can come together for national school nutrition standards, so should the Senate.  We hope Senators will support this amendment to improve school foods and help reduce childhood obesity.

Washington


 

Actually, Rudy has never fought terrorism


In Dick Morris’s column relating to the prospects of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Rudy Giuliani (R) winning their parties’ nominations (“Hillary, Rudy may know life after death,” Dec. 5), Morris claims that Giuliani has a “demonstrated ability to fight terrorism.”

Where has Giuliani ever “fought” terrorism? He hasn’t. He was simply the mayor of New York when terrorists struck and he reacted to it, talking a great deal about terrorism. He has in no way ever fought terrorism. I suggest you exercise more caution in selecting your words when preparing your articles for publication.

Williamsburg, Va.