The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week continued efforts to gather information on federal child nutrition programs by holding listening sessions in Baltimore and San Francisco. Additional sessions are scheduled for Atlanta on August 20 and for Chicago and Denver in mid-September. IDFA encourages all members to participate in one of these sessions or to submit testimony directly to USDA before the comment period ends on October 15.
USDA is holding a series of sessions across the country to gather input prior to the 2009 Reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, which includes the school lunch and breakfast 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).
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.
Representatives from organizations seeking to eliminate dairy and animal-based foods from schools attended both the Baltimore and San Francisco sessions last week.
"To counter the messages of these anti-dairy advocates, it is vital that the USDA hear from dairy processors about the nutritional value that milk and dairy products contribute to the school lunch program," Saunders said.
IDFA staff will attend sessions and help members to develop their testimony and comments. Members may contact Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-220-3501 for details.
To read the testimony submitted last week by Galliker's and Marva Maid, click here.
USDA has published the following information for the remaining sessions.
- Atlanta, Ga., Aug. 20, 2008
Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center
2nd Floor Conference Center, Room D
61 Forsyth St., SW
Atlanta, GA 30303-8930
For more information, call 404-562-1801.
- Chicago, Ill., Sept. 10, 2008
FNS Midwest Regional Office
77 West Jackson Blvd. 20th Floor
Chicago, IL 60604-3507
For more information, call 312-353-6664.
- Denver, Co., Sept. 11, 2008
The Colorado History Museum
Denver, CO 80203
For more information, call 303-844-0300
The comment period will end October 15, 2008. To read the Federal Register notice, which includes instructions for submitting comments, visit click here.