Today, Delaware Congressman Mike Castle supported passage of the Improving Nutrition for America's Children Act (H.R. 5504) during consideration in the House Education and Labor Committee. H.R. 5504 would expand access to nutritious meals for millions of children in schools, child care and after school centers, and during the summer; supports community efforts to reduce childhood hunger and improve student wellness; and establishes nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools. As co-chair of the House Diabetes Caucus and a member of the Congressional Task Force on Childhood Obesity, Rep. Castle focused on provisions to improve student wellness, and secured language to underscore prevention of childhood obesity and diet-related chronic disease.
"I was pleased to support passage of H.R. 5504, which will greatly improve the meals children eat during and after school and in child care," said Rep. Castle. "The number of overweight and obese young Americans has tripled in the last 20 years and not only is childhood obesity likely to lead to overweight or obese adults, but kids are increasingly suffering from health conditions traditionally associated with adulthood, like type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol and blood pressure. I was glad to be able to incorporate language to underscore childhood obesity and diet-related chronic disease prevention in the development of Local Wellness Policies and nutrition education tools.
"I am also pleased that Nemours' child care model in Delaware, which is successfully addressing childhood obesity and improving wellness, was incorporated. Teaching children the importance of healthy lifestyles at the earliest age possible is vital, and I thank Chairman Miller for working with me to ensure Nemours' technical assistance expertise is tapped.
"I look forward to continue working with individuals at the state and local level to further address childhood obesity by supporting programs that promote nutrition education and physical activity, improve health outcomes, and target children who are at greatest risk. Given the serious financial challenges our country faces, we must prioritize the most pressing issues--providing nutritious meals, which directly improves health and learning for our neediest children is an important priority. As this legislation moves to the House floor, and through the Senate, I look forward to working bipartisanly to find appropriate means to offset any new costs incurred."
H.R. 5504 revises and extends the Child Nutrition Improvement and Integrity Act, authored by Rep. Castle in 2004. A longtime advocate for improving opportunities for children's well-being, Rep. Castle believes we must work with parents, students, educators, school food service professionals and local communities in our efforts to improve child nutrition, eliminate hunger, and prevent childhood obesity and its related health complications.
Summary of H.R. 5504
* Reauthorizes the Child Nutrition Program;
* Improves access to school meal programs, child care and after school center food programs, and summer food programs;
* Helps schools and child care improve the quality of meals;
* Improves food safety requirements;
* Encourages public and private partnerships in communities;
* Improves school nutrition education programs and Local Wellness Policies.