US Senator seeks junk food ban school lunch boost

March 19, 2010

According to Reuters, the U.S. government would launch an all-out ban on selling junk food at school under a key Senate chairman’s proposal on March 17, but funding for school lunch and child nutrition programs would grow by only half as much as the White House proposed.

Senator Blanche Lincoln, chairman of the Agriculture Committee, proposed a $4.5 billion increase over 10 years for school lunches and other nutrition programs. That is less than half of the $1 billion a year suggested by President Barack Obama, who has a goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015.

“This is a place to start. This is more than we’ve ever spent on these programs,” said Lincoln in unveiling her bill. She said she would keep looking for more funds to reach Obama’s request for $1 billion a year.

The plan would allow the Agriculture Dept. to set nutrition standards for all food sold at schools—taking “local policies” into account—meaning it could ban junk food.

The government now spends $17 billon a year on child nutrition, chiefly school lunches. Nearly 32 million children are fed daily through the school lunch program and nearly 11 million pupils are in the school breakfast program. Some 63% of the meals are free or available at a low price. Lincoln said the increase would allow schools to offer free meals to all children in high-poverty areas, to automatically approve free meals for children when their families are approved for federal aid, and to expand after-school and summertime meal programs.

The plan would allow the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) to ban junk food throughout a school. High-calorie, salty, sugary, and high-fat snacks and soda now can be sold in areas outside of cafeterias.

Reuters article