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Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Mr. Chair, these are not regulations that were written in Washington, D.C. These are regulations that were written in cooperation with school food service personnel, superintendents and teachers and school districts all over the country.

After many years of deliberation, we have continued to improve this program. Plate waste is less now than it was before. What we have discovered is, if children can select what they wanted to eat from a healthy menu, where we didn't have to worry that they were just selecting high-sugar content and high-salt content, they were eating what they liked, what they became familiar with, plate waste went down.

The purpose of this program is not to increase the profits of food processors or the agribusiness industry in this country. The purpose of this program is to improve the nutrition of children in our schools. Why? Because we understand that nutrition is directly connected to how well those children do in the classroom, not because I say so, not because the Secretary of Education says so or the Secretary of Agriculture, but because classroom teachers will tell you that if children don't have nutrition in the morning, if there is not food in their homes and they come to school, they start to act out in class because they start to drift. And the fact is the school breakfast program has made a remarkable difference. The school lunch program has made a remarkable difference in children not acting out in class and children being able to concentrate and to perform better, to get better grades, to graduate from high school. It is directly connected.

Now what we see is that industry thinks that this is simply some kind of marketing system for their products. It is like white potatoes aren't available to poor people, white potatoes aren't available to people on food stamps, white potatoes aren't available in America. Yes, they are. But in the WIC program, it is directly related to the health of that mother, the fetus, the newborn infant, and the young child. We have to think about what a healthy meal means to the healthy development of that child. A surplus of white potatoes in that diet is not necessarily what you want to have happen.

In that schoolroom, what we want is good nutrition. We are not going to let that be dictated by the industry. The idea that somehow school districts can't comply, well, 90 percent have complied, and 90 percent have complied within the additional amount of money that the Federal Government made available so they could comply.

The Secretary has been reaching out to those districts in trouble, and I suggest those districts reach out to other districts in their area that are complying and finding this to be helpful. This isn't some big burden by the Federal Government. This is working in 90 percent of the districts.

Our own School Nutrition Association of California is against this waiver. We have very creative people. In our committee, we brought those people in and we talked about plate waste, we talked about flexibility, and that was incorporated in this legislation when it became the law of the land.

So on the whim and the misinformation that somehow it is not working, somehow it is impossible to do, I will stand with 90 percent of the districts and school food service people who are implementing it. I will stand with the health officials. I will stand with the teachers that understand what a difference it means to have healthy and nutritious food available to these children during the school day.

We have got to support the Farr amendment. We have got to take care of our children. We have got to give them an opportunity to learn in our schools, and good nutrition provides that opportunity. Bad nutrition interrupts that opportunity.

The CHAIR. The time of the gentleman has expired.

Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. And the time is expired for this kind of legislation.

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