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Child Nutrition (3/5/2010)

Audio:
 

Intro:

Congress is preparing to reauthorize the child nutrition programs, and federal officials promise to work with states to make it easier for children to receive free meals. Bill McLean reports.

McLean:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack described several policy changes during a conference call with industry leaders, saying applications for free- and reduced-meal programs are either too complicated, or parents are not getting the information they need to apply.

Vilsack:

:16 - And the result is that not as many youngsters qualify for these programs as, in fact, are in need. Resources should be dedicated to improving access to the school nutrition program. And by resources we mean, being more creative and more innovative in terms of how youngsters may be able to qualify for these programs.

McLean:

Secretary Vilsack suggested children who are enrolled in other assistance programs might be automatically enrolled in the school meal programs. He says an upsurge in demand for what used to be called food stamps indicates more Americans are hungry.

Vilsack:

:12 - We see this in the rather extraordinary increase in our SNAP program, and now at 38 million Americans, we don't see a corresponding increase in free and reduced lunch which leads us to believe that there are probably some youngsters that are falling through the cracks.

McLean:

Vilsack says the reauthorization of the nutrition programs should also focus on ways to increase participation in school breakfast, provide new equipment for school cafeterias and extend the benefits to children when they are not in school.

McLean:

In Austin, I'm Bill McLean.

McLean:

Additional actuality, Vilsack explains why reaching more children with the school nutrition programs is so important. Audio is 14 seconds, coming in 3-2-1.

Vilsack :

:14 - A third of our youngsters are obese or overweight. This will have a significant impact on their lives as they are early learners and students, but it will also translate into significantly greater health care costs for these youngsters and less productivity as they enter adult years.



03-05-10 Child Nutrition.mp3