On March 3, Senator Blanche Lincoln told a conference of school meal providers that she plans to start marking up the Child Nutrition Act before March 26, when Congress goes on Easter recess. If the Senator is true to her word, this will be the first progress on the bill since Congress passed a one-year extension last fall.
Lincoln also said that she’s seeking the biggest increase ever in funding for child nutrition programs, citing President Obama’s proposal to add $1 billion per year. While that amount isn’t enough to transform school lunch, it is an important step forward and we encourage everyone to let Congress know it’s a priority.
Our other policy goals – strengthening nutrition standards for all the food at school, and linking schools to local farms – have strong support from the USDA and will likely be included if Congress supports the funding increase. We’re already seeing progress: two bills to support Farm to School programs have recently been introduced in the House and Senate. A quick way to help these bills get included in the Child Nutrition Act is to call your legislators and ask for their support.
The other important news is that legislators will be home in your district for Easter recess from March 26 to April 11. This is a great opportunity to get their attention. Some easy things you can do are:
• Submit a Letter to the Editor or Op-Ed to your local paper. One fantastic story would be to gather a group of parents to eat school lunch, and then write about it in an Op-Ed.
• Schedule a meeting with your legislator or his/her staff. Bring kids, parents, teachers and school meal providers, and let them do the talking.
• Invite your legislator or his/her staff to eat school lunch.
Learn more about the Time for Lunch Campaign at www.slowfoodusa.org/timeforlunch, and email Slow Food USA staff member Gordon Jenkins (gordon [at] slowfoodusa [dot] org) if you’d like to get involved.