18 November 2014

My Letter to Congress about School Lunch Standards

I am writing to ask you to oppose any effort to weaken school nutrition standards through the appropriations process. President Truman first inaugurated the National School Lunch Program, and it has enjoyed a long history of bipartisan support.  I urge you to help Congress return to those bipartisan roots.

For the past two years, schools across the country have been working hard to meet updated nutrition standards for school meals.  As a result, more than ninety percent of schools are serving more fruits, vegetables and whole grains through school lunch. Congress should support that progress, not roll it back.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is listening and responding to the challenges that some schools are facing as they work to serve healthier meals to kids.  Congress should not micromanage the school lunch program through the appropriations process.  What is being billed as bringing "flexibility" to the school meal programs actually would significantly weaken them and result in more unhealthy food for kids.
Can I count on you to stand up for our kids and oppose efforts to weaken school nutrition?  I look forward to your reply. 

Send your own letter here: https://www.cspinet.org/takeaction/#/47


  1. Dear Mr. Herrera:

    Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about school lunches. I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this issue.

    As you know, the Healthy Hunger Free Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-296) requires all school cafeterias that participate in the National School Lunch Program to follow strict dietary restrictions. This law was passed as a top White House priority under First Lady Michelle Obama's anti-childhood obesity campaign. Since the law's implementation, school districts from around the country have voiced concerns that these new dietary requirements are extremely costly and may force them to remove their cafeterias from the National School Lunch Program. An independent study by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office has found that about 1 million children have left the National School Lunch Program to date.

    In response, the House Appropriations Committee included a provision in the agriculture appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2015, H.R. 4800, that allows school cafeterias operating at a net loss to have a one year waiver from the Healthy Hunger Kids Act dietary restrictions. Please be assured that I will keep your concerns in mind should this legislation be considered by the full Senate.

    Thank you for taking the time to share your views. Please feel free to contact me again on this or any other matter of concern.


    John McCain
    United States Senator

  2. Dear Mr. Herrera:

    Thank you for contacting me about school nutrition programs.

    Speaking as the father of five children who have attended Arizona's public schools, I firmly believe that education should not be funded and administered at the federal level. Only a fraction of every federal tax dollar earmarked for education actually makes it into the classroom. The rest of the money is captured by various layers of government bureaucracy, including bureaucracy at the state level. Why send a dollar to Washington, only to have a fraction return to Arizona? Let's just keep the dollar in Arizona.

    I do, however, agree with the idea of giving schools increased flexibility with how they choose to spend their money. Under current practices, the small amount of money that actually reaches the classroom winds up getting tied to burdensome federal mandates that dictate how school administrators spend that money. Administrators, who understandably want the money, end up developing programs based upon compliance with the mandates. This simply does not make much sense. Programs should be based on what works best in each school. Schools that want certain nutrition programs should have the flexibility to fund them.

    Several bills that have been introduced in the United States Senate would make adjustments to the nutrition standards for the school lunch and breakfast programs. I will be certain to keep your comments in mind should I have the opportunity to consider these bills.

    Thank you again for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to do so again in the future. I also encourage you to visit my website, which may be found at flake.senate.gov.


    United States Senator