February 1, 2013
Harkin Applauds “Smart Snacks” Proposal from USDA
Proposed Rule Stems from Harkin Legislation to Promote Health for American Students
WASHINGTON D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, applauded USDA’s release of proposed nutrition standards to promote healthier eating and to get junk food out of schools. The standards, which stem from legislation that Harkin authored and inserted into the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, close a decades old loophole in nutrition law that allowed the Department of Agriculture to set common-sense standards for federally-reimbursed school meals, but which prevented them from establishing similar standards for school foods provided through vending machines, snack bars, and stores at school.
“For decades, the school lunch loophole has given our kids access to junk food through school vending machines, snack bars, and school stores, undermining not only their health, but also taxpayers investment in nutritionally balanced school meals,” said Harkin. “USDA’s proposed nutrition standards are a critical step in closing that loophole and in ensuring that our schools are places that nurture not just the minds or American children, but their bodies as well.”
Harkin’s efforts to replace junk food in schools with smart snacks started almost two decades ago as a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. Eventually, these efforts led to the introduction, with Senator Lisa Murkowski, of the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act, which required the Secretary of Agriculture to establish healthy guidelines for all foods in schools, not just federally-reimbursed school meals. The provisions of that legislation were inserted in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, signed into law by the President in 2010. The proposed standards released today, which promote the availability of healthy snacks, and which reduce the availability of junk foods in schools, stem directly from the authority provided in the 2010 legislation.