March 23, 2010
Dear Mr. Endelman,
Thank you for contacting me about the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition and WIC Act of 2004. This fall, Congress will debate the future of school meal programs across the country by reauthorizing the Child Nutrition Act. My main goal will be to increase the current federal reimbursement rate to schools by 70 cents per meal in order to ensure that our children are provided quality meals.
As a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, I look forward to working closely with my colleagues in re-writing the child nutrition bill this year, offering the opportunity to provide our schools with the funding they need to keep our kids healthy and strong. Specifically, I would like to give our schools options for making food purchases that maximize nutrition and minimize cost, trusting our school officials with the ability to negotiate with local farmers or local companies for the freshest ingredients available at low transportation costs.
I would also like to see an increase in the funding for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program. In New York, this would not only bring more nutritious options into our schools, save taxpayers money, but it will have the added benefit of helping our Upstate apple and grape farmers find local buyers for their products. I have long been an advocate to allowing our schools to "buy local" and I hope that the bill that we write will provide the flexibility for schools to do that. In addition, we cannot forget about the importance of milk to every child's diet. As the mother of a 5-year-old and a toddler, I am very aware of the importance of drinking milk every day. Many families that are struggling are not able to afford milk to provide for their children. The Special Milk Program, authorized in the child nutrition bill can fill this gap. I will work very hard to ensure that this program is fully funded for the good of our kids and the good of our dairy farmers.
We also must not forget that kids need nutritious foods even when they are out of school. Therefore, one of my goals for this bill will be to provide kids with healthy options during the summer and after school. By providing at-risk students with after-school snacks, we will accomplish the dual purpose of giving them healthy alternatives to what they often find at home, as well as programming at the end of the school day that will keep them off the streets and out of trouble.
Thank you again for writing to express your concerns and I hope that you keep in touch with my office regarding future legislation and concerns you may have. For more information on this and other important issues, please visit my website at http://gillibrand.senate.gov and sign up for my e-newsletter.
United States Senator
Friday, March 26, 2010
Here is the response I received from one of my senators after I sent her an e-mail about the Child Nutrition Act, which I discussed yesterday: