WASHINGTON, D.C., June 5, 2019 — The American Heart Association issued the following statement on the FY 2020 agriculture appropriations bill that passed yesterday in the House Appropriations Committee:
“We are pleased the bill includes important provisions for improving school meals and educating adults about using menu labeling and nutrition facts panels to make informed food choices.
“The bill would fund technical assistance on sodium targets for school meals, require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to report compliance rates for school meal nutrition standards, request federal guidance on adequate time for eating healthy school meals and expand grants for schools to provide breakfast.
“We also support language that would prohibit USDA from moving the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture out of the national capital region. We and more than 100 organizations that support USDA research oppose this move, as relocation would undermine the quality and breadth of the work of these agencies, which is vital to U.S. agriculture, food security and rural development.
“Overall, we are pleased the bill is free of provisions that would slow progress on sodium reduction initiatives or tobacco regulation, unlike last year’s bill that unnecessarily delayed critical food and nutrition programs. At the same time, it is frustrating to once again see language that weakens some food and nutrition policies.
“This bill would require USDA to reopen part of the requirements that guide Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) retailers on what foods to put on their shelves and redefine what the term ’variety’ means. This provision could cause more unhealthy foods to qualify as staple foods for SNAP participants. Our concerns are underscored by a recent USDA proposed rule that would allow canned spray cheese count as a staple food.
“The bill also includes language that would allow schools to skip serving fruits before they serve potatoes without another vegetable requirement in their breakfast offerings. Requiring schools to provide dark green and orange fruits and vegetables ensures that the other vegetable subgroup requirements are met before serving a starchy – and often fried – vegetable, such as hash browns. Providing these fruits and vegetables first encourages children to try and consume a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods.
“We urge Congress to keep these provisions out of the final legislation so the progress we’ve made on improving nutrition continues to benefit the public health.”
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.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.