Booker, Cornyn introduce bill to fund school nutrition programs

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Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Thursday introduced a bill proposing a pilot program to direct federal funds to school nutrition programs.

The bipartisan Food and Nutrition Education in Schools Act of 2020 would allocate federal funding for projects that educate students while connecting them to healthy food practices. 

Priority would be given to schools in neighborhoods with high rates of childhood diet-related illnesses and schools in which 40 percent of students qualify for free or reduced price meals. 

“As Ron Finley, an inspiring black leader and urban farmer in South Central Los Angeles once said, ‘In South Central, we got drive-bys and drive-thrus, and the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys,’” Booker said in a statement. “Countless studies have demonstrated that a lack of access to nutritious food – particularly in underserved communities – manifests itself in all areas of human development, from increased rates of diet-related diseases to reduced academic performance”

Booker said the proposed bill would “bring equitable access to food and nutrition education” to children across America by prioritizing communities disproportionately impacted by food insecurity. 

Cornyn also touted the proposal as economically beneficial by saving taxpayer money through teaching children the “invaluable lesson” of placing an emphasis on their health. 

“Teaching students how to prioritize their health by choosing nutritious foods is an invaluable lesson that will serve them for years to come,” Cornyn said in a statement. “This legislation would invest in programs that educate Texas children to make healthy choices, which can help lower the incidence of disease linked to obesity and, in turn, save taxpayer money.”

The bill for the pilot program would provide local education agencies for projects that hire full-time food and nutrition educators. It would also fund school gardens and other evidence-based interventions related to student health and nutrition to create hands-on learning opportunities for students. 

FoodCorps, a nonprofit that connects kids with healthy food in schools, worked with lawmakers to help develop the bill. 

“This bipartisan bill proposes to expand evidence-based food and nutrition education resources and programming to even more schools, ensuring school nutrition professionals have greater support to get kids excited about eating healthy school meals,” FoodCorps policy director Kumar Chandran said in a statement. 

Tags Cory Booker healthy school lunches John Cornyn school nutrition

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