House Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill would return junk food to schools

School meals

Statement of CSPI Nutrition Policy Director Margo G. Wootan

The House child nutrition reauthorization bill would roll back key progress that schools, health advocates, and the Administration have worked so hard to achieve over the last six years. It would mean saltier school meals with fewer whole grains, with opportunities to roll back additional nutrition guidelines every three years.

The House bill would bring back junk food that has already been removed from schools. The Smart Snacks standards would no longer apply to fundraisers or any food ever sold as a part of a meal, even cookies, chips, or other junk food. The bill would weaken the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, allowing schools to substitute chips, sugary fruit snacks and trail mix for the fresh fruit and vegetables they now get as snacks through the program, and make it more difficult for low-income students to receive free meals.

The House child nutrition bill would set the stage for higher rates of obesity and diabetes in children. Congress would do better to stick with the bipartisan compromise worked out in the Senate. The Senate bill balances food service providers’ concerns with the need to support children's health.

CSPI and 750 other national, state, and local organizations strongly oppose H.R. 5003. We urge Members of Congress to work toward a final child nutrition bill that maintains the integrity of school nutrition and the child nutrition programs and promotes children’s health.