U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today introduced a new legislative agenda to provide quality, healthy, nutritious food to low-income children and families who desperately need it. Senator Gillibrand introduced legislation to enroll all foster care children in the National School Lunch Program to give them access to healthy breakfasts and lunches, along with new legislation to update the nutritional standards of the USDA's Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program that provides resources for healthy food to low-income families, and cut waste from WIC to ensure that resources are being spent where they are needed most.
"Every child deserves the opportunity to achieve their full potential," Senator Gillibrand said. "But too many of our children are falling behind because they don't have access to healthy, nutritious meals. My legislation would make sure children who are most in need can get the same healthy meals that all schoolchildren have, update nutrition standards to maximize the effectiveness of the WIC program, and cut waste from the program to make sure we're spending resources where they are needed the most."
As the first New Yorker to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly 40 years, Senator Gillibrand is fighting for higher food standards and to provide New York with more resources to give all New York children and families access to healthy meals.
Healthier Meals for Children in Foster Care
Nearly 26,000 New York children live in foster care. A 2008 study by the University of Utah found that 35 percent of children in foster care are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity puts children at risk of becoming obese adults, and puts them at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart illness.
Senator Gillibrand is introducing legislation that would enroll all children in foster care in the National School Lunch Program that provides daily healthy, nutritious breakfasts and lunches to children in need.
Update WIC Nutrition Standards
WIC provides Supplemental Nutrition Assistance to pregnant women, and women with infants and young children. WIC is an effective program that improves the health of pregnant women, new mothers, their infants and children, and provides essential nutrients that are often missing from the diets of low-income families. In fact, WIC participants are proven to have longer, healthier pregnancies and fewer premature births. More than half a million New Yorkers participate in WIC.
However, until the 2004 Child Nutrition Act was implemented, the contents of the WIC Food Package had not been updated in over 30 years. Senator Gillibrand is introducing legislation that would require the nutritional standards of the WIC program to be reviewed by the Institute of Medicine at least every 10 years to ensure the program's food packages meet current health and nutrition standards.
Cut Unnecessary Red Tape from WIC
States are required to certify whether WIC participants qualify for the program every six months -- requiring the program to spend resources on administrative costs instead of resources for families in need. Since most participants enroll in the WIC program for up to five years starting from pregnancy, Senator Gillibrand is introducing legislation that would allow states to review their WIC participants once a year instead of every six months to cut wasteful spending on administrative costs and use these savings to deliver resources for families.
Read more about Senator Gillibrand's agenda to improve food standards and give more New York children access to the healthy, nutritious meals they need to achieve their full potential.