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Child Nutrition Act Listening Sessions to Start; IDFA Urges Members to Engage

Jun 09, 2008

Every five years Congress is required to review and reauthorize current federal child nutrition programs under the Child Nutrition Act. The last reauthorization took place in 2004, when IDFA and others in the dairy industry successfully encouraged legislators to relax restrictions regarding milk selection in the school lunch line and to give schools the authority to offer milk at anytime and anywhere on school premises or at school events.

It's time for the industry to become engaged in the 2009 reauthorization process, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will launch this week by hosting the first in a series of listening sessions. Over the next three months, USDA plans to hold seven sessions around the country to gather information that will help department officials shape and amend policy for the 2009 bill.

Specific programs under consideration include the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), and the Special Milk Program. In fiscal year 2007, the federal government spent more than $20 billion on child nutrition programs.

"These listening sessions are extremely important to the industry and our members, because of the volume of milk and dairy products that we provide to these programs," said Ruth Saunders, IDFA senior director of policy and legislative affairs. "Now is our opportunity to propose improvements, discuss school nutrition standards and highlight the need for adequate funding levels."

Underscoring the importance of these programs to dairy, Saunders noted that federal school programs represented 5.6 percent of all U.S. fluid milk sales in 2006. For the $3.6 billion spent on food under the WIC program in 2005, milk accounted for $1.4 billion (28.9 percent), cheese represented $498 million (13.8 percent) and infant formula accounted for $628 million (17.4 percent).

IDFA encourages all members to attend and participate in the listening sessions. IDFA staff will attend sessions and help members to develop their testimony and comments. Members may contact Saunders at rsaunders@idfa.org or (202) 220-3501 for details.

USDA has published the following information on sessions, dates, times, locations and contact information.

 

Boston, MA Tip O'Neill Federal Building, 10 Causeway St., Boston, MA 02114 June 10, 2008, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
  For more information, call (617) 565-5300.

 

Austin, TX Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Avenue, Austin, TX July 15, 2008, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  For more information, call (214) 290-9800.

 

Baltimore, MD Enoch Pratt Library Auditorium, 400 Cathedral St., Baltimore, MD 21201 Aug. 6, 2008, 8:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  For more information, call (609) 259-5059.

 

San Francisco, CA San Francisco Federal Building, 90 Seventh St., Rooms B020 & B040, San Francisco, CA 94103 Aug. 6, 2008, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
  For more information, call (415) 705-1311 (x534).

 

Atlanta, GA Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center, 2nd Floor, Conference Center, Room D 61, Forsyth St., SW Atlanta, GA 30303-8930 Aug. 20, 2008
  For more information, call (404) 562-1801.

 

Chicago, IL FNS Midwest Regional Office Conference Center, 77 West Jackson Blvd., 20th Floor, Chicago, IL 60604-3507 Sept. 10, 2008, 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
  For more information, call (312) 353-6664.

 

Denver, CO The Colorado History Museum, 1300 Broadway, Denver, CO 80203 Sept. 11, 2008
  For more information, call (303) 844-0300.

 

USDA has also issued a request for comments on the child nutrition programs. The comment period will end October 15, 2008. To read the Federal Register notice, which includes instructions for submitting comments, visit www.fns.usda.gov/cga/Federal-Register/2008/052008.pdf.

 

 
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