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April 20, 2010 at 4:01 PM

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Congress on board to reauthorize National School Lunch Program

Posted by Letters editor

Substitute food stamps for leaner school lunches

Editor, The Times:

I read the April 16 editorial “Funding the end of mystery meat” [Opinion] with irony and anger as I prepared my son’s school lunch —a peanut butter sandwich and chips from an economy-size bag.

It is amazing the folks who promote a nanny state are concerned about this issue. My sons are not obese, as I cannot afford to buy them a hot lunch at school containing those devious fatty foods such as hot dogs and fried chicken.

Of more concern is the tacit admission that the food-stamp program obviously does not work. Otherwise, these children would be eating nutritious meals, both in the morning and evening.

Why don’t we do away with the food-stamp programs and use those savings for leaner school meals?

— Chris Gormley, Everett

For school lunches, $1 billion not a big bite on federal budget

The Seattle Times rightly endorsed investing more to improve the nutritional quality of school meals.

We, the Children’s Alliance, agree that Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s bill to reauthorize child-nutrition programs calls for too small of an investment. We do not agree that the Obama administration has asked for too much by requesting $1 billion a year in new funding.

Fundamental changes are needed to improve both nutrition in and access to essential child-nutrition programs. About 42 percent of children in our state signed up for free or reduced-price meals this past fall. Hunger is on the rise in tandem with childhood obesity. Food choices and opportunities for physical activity are severely limited in many low-income communities.

Increasing participation in the federal nutrition programs is one of the healthy eating and physical activity strategies recommended in the Institute of Medicine’s report Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity. Numerous national research studies applaud the role that nutrition programs play in improving school children’s’ diets.

It is vital that we surround all of our kids with nutritious food where they live, learn and play. Let’s not shortchange a key investment that would get us closer to reaching that goal.

— Linda Stone, senior food policy coordinator, Children’s Alliance, Seattle

Spend now on lunch bill, save later on health-care bills

The Times falls short of calling for an additional $1 billion per year for 10 years, citing concerns about other budget pressures facing Congress.

Washington’s Child Nutrition Reauthorization Coalition asks that Congress fully fund the additional $1 billion per year being requested by President Barack Obama, Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and countless child-hunger and nutrition advocates around the country.

We, Washington’s Child Nutrition Reauthorization Coalition and Northwest Harvest, strongly suggest that without this investment now, the United States will pay a far greater price down the road.

In addition to spending nearly $150 billion annually in obesity-related medical costs in the country, the current child-obesity epidemic seriously threatens our national security. Three out of four 18-to-24-year-olds today are unfit to serve in our military primarily because of obesity or a lack of high school diploma — both outcomes closely tied to child nutrition.

Mission Readiness, a coalition of retired generals, admirals and civilian military leaders recently released the report “Too Fat To Serve,” in which they argue for strong child-nutrition legislation that removes junk food from schools, improves nutritional standards for meals served and increases access to these programs that are known to reduce and prevent child obesity.

Our coalition echoes this call and asks Washington’s federal lawmakers to make it a priority to fight child hunger and obesity with an increased investment of $1 billion per year.

— Josh Fogt, public policy manager, Northwest Harvest, Seattle

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