Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Nutrition plays an important role in food banking

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' policy and advocacy training was held in Washington DC June 23-24. Foodshare Fundraising Assistant, MaryAnn—who also happens to be a Registered Dietetic Technician—attended as Co-Chair of the Food Security Committee for the Connecticut Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
One of the topics focused on Child Nutrition Programs Reauthorization, a federal bill that provides funding for School Meals, WIC, Farm to School, Child and Adult Care Food Program, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program, and the Summer Food Service Program. Since child nutrition programs are intended to reduce food insecurity and increase diet quality for children, the Academy is opposing many provisions which may actually negatively impact child health and food security. Some examples include:
  • Moving the threshold for community eligibility from 40% to 60%: the impact and the burden of more paperwork on parents, teachers, and school nutrition administrators will divert attention away from serving healthy meals to children, resulting in fewer children having access to healthy meals. 
  • Instituting a block grant pilot for school meals programs: Block grants do not respond to increased need during economic downturns, do not keep up with rising costs of food and supplies, do not require science-based nutrition standards for children, and allow states to divert federal funds from the intended program goals.
  • Eliminating evidence-based nutrition standards for children's meals which are working in 98% of schools.
  • Eliminating the word "fresh" from the fresh fruit and vegetable program: This small change could draw attention away from what should be the focus of this successful program. Introducing students to the world of produce, such as eating an apple for the first time, is an experience proven to build lifelong healthy eating habits.
Following the training, MaryAnn had this to share, “Nutrition is a hot topic among food banks, and meeting with our legislative aides to discuss the importance of good nutrition, while advocating to improve these bills has made me even more committed to helping others in the areas of health and nutrition.”

Thanks MaryAnn, we are lucky to have you on our team!

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