WASHINGTON, D.C., March 25, 2021­ — Today the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry will hold a hearing titled, “Child Nutrition Reauthorization: Healthy Meals and Healthy Futures.”  

Mitchell S. V. Elkind, M.D., MS, FAAN, FAHA, president of the American Heart Association, issued the following statement in advance of the hearing: 

“In the face of a pandemic that has left millions of children nationwide without reliable access to healthy food, Congress has an invaluable opportunity to improve child nutrition programs.

“The economic downturn has left as many as 12 million children food insecure, and Black and Hispanic households are twice as likely as white families to face this predicament. Congress should ensure that all children enrolled in schools that operate the National School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program receive free breakfast and free lunch. ‘Healthy school meals for all’ would help keep children from going hungry, remove financial burdens for families during a time of economic uncertainty, help school food programs recover financially and mitigate the stigma some students face in their school cafeteria.

“Child nutrition reauthorization also provides a means to protect and strengthen evidence-based school nutrition standards to ensure the health and wellbeing of all children. The standards, enacted in 2012, have resulted in students eating healthier foods in school and improving their diet quality. According to the USDA, the healthiest meals have the highest participation rates for students. With childhood obesity getting worse because of the pandemic, it is essential that the food being served in schools follow science-based standards to give children the proper nutrition they need to thrive as schools return to in-person learning.”

“Millions of children rely on their schools for healthy and nutritious meals. The American Heart Association urges congressional leaders to uphold science-based standards and ensure that no child falls through the cracks when it comes to proper nutrition.”

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About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a leading force for a world of longer, healthier lives. With nearly a century of lifesaving work, the Dallas-based association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health for all. We are a trustworthy source empowering people to improve their heart health, brain health and well-being. We collaborate with numerous organizations and millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, advocate for stronger public health policies and share lifesaving resources and information. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

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