Senate advances legislation to reduce childhood obesity and strengthen youth nutrition

The Senate passed legislation last week aimed at reducing childhood obesity and strengthening programs dedicated to improving childrens’ nutrition. The Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act will provide $4.5 billion to improving the National School Lunch Program, promote the health benefits of breastfeeding, and establish new national nutritional standards to help children eat healthier foods at school.

The act will increase funding for the National School Lunch Program and ensure that schools can meet new national nutrition standards. The bill will also increase funding for the Women Infants Children (WIC) program, including a new program promoting the health benefits of breastfeeding.

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley co-sponsored two provisions in the bill. The Farm-to-School program brings local foods into cafeterias and establish school gardens. The other provision provides low-income children across the country with after-school meals rather than just a snack.

“Childhood obesity is a serious epidemic in America and we have an obligation to our children to improve the nutritional quality of the food they eat,” said Merkley. “If we want our kids to lead healthier lives, we need to give them healthier options than soda, French fries, and pizza. While I would have liked to see stronger support for childhood nutrition programs, this bill makes significant improvements in the food we serve to our kids in school.”

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