Thompson discusses importance of school nutrition reform

U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, joined school district and nonprofit officials, parents and representatives from nutrition firms this week to discuss federal school nutrition guidelines.

The forum was essentially focused on the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which created stringent standards for school nutrition. The stakeholders had the opportunity to  review options regarding the possible reauthorization of the law, which is set to expire at the end of September.

Thompson explained that schools across the nation have had issues with the law since it was implemented.

“We heard today that new guidelines are causing students to pack their lunch, or even buy lunch at nearby convenience stores,” Thompson said. “It is so important to hear directly from our schools on what is working with this law and what needs to change.”

Several issues were discussed at the forum, including the continued decline of student participation in school lunch programs across the nation since the law first went into effect, along with the difficulty for school nutritionists to implement the guidelines as well as the increased cost to taxpayers. A downturn in the consumption of milk in America’s schools also was discussed.

“Very few beverages have the same nutritional value as milk,” Thompson, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, said. “That is why I have sponsored a bipartisan bill [that] reaffirms the requirement that milk is offered with every meal. We need to make sure children are getting the nutrition they need to grow and stay healthy.

Thompson is a co-sponsor of the School Food Modernization Act, legislation that allows schools to participate in a loan assistance program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be used to buy new kitchen equipment, provide assistance to school administrators and food service directors, and strengthen training and technical assistance to nutrition workers at schools nationwide.