childhood nutrition

Report: Baby food is less toxic but still often contains pesticides

Non-organic baby food is less toxic than it was 30 years ago, but it still contains pesticides at least 38 percent of the time, according to a new report by the Environmental Working Group. EWG researchers noted that federal agencies have made strides in regulating pesticide contamination in baby food, but advised parents and caregivers to use caution at the grocery store.

USDA proposal would make it easier for schools to offer universal free meals

An additional 20,000 schools in poor neighborhoods would have the option of serving breakfast and lunch for free to all of their students under a proposal by the USDA, a step toward a potential expansion of universal free meals by more than 50 percent. “This is an investment in our youngsters,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday.

SNA says now is not the time to raise school-meal standards

A month after the USDA proposed new rules to make school meals healthier, hundreds of school nutrition directors will come to Washington next week to tell lawmakers to reject the stricter standards. The School Nutrition Association, which represents school food workers nationwide, argues that stricter rules will be difficult for schools to meet, as they still face labor shortages and supply chain disruptions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the avian flu epidemic. (No paywall)

School nutrition association calls for free school food for all students

School meals should be free for all kids, regardless of their families' incomes, said the School Nutrition Association in a position paper released on Wednesday. Students have racked up $19.2 million in debt for meals they couldn't pay for since the waivers that made school meals universally free during the pandemic expired last spring, said the group.

On social media, universal free school lunch is popular

Far more people on social media support free meals for all public school students than oppose it, 43 percent vs. 3 percent, according to an analysis by Impact Social, an online monitoring company, in collaboration with the food policy publication Food Fix.

From a meat-processing ban to free school lunch, food and ag are on the ballot

In Tuesday's elections, voters will decide several ballot initiatives on food and agricultural issues, including a ban on meat processing facilities in a South Dakota city and the expansion of universal school lunch to Colorado. California voters will determine the fate of a tax on high income earners to pay for green energy and for fighting wildfires, which have cost the state’s agricultural sector tens of millions of dollars. 

After a decade of decline, WIC participation rose during pandemic

The number of children participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) increased by 8.7 percent during the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Food Research & Action Center.

At White House conference, Biden lays out plan to end hunger by 2030

America can end hunger by 2030 by fighting poverty, expanding access to healthy food, and reorienting healthcare toward preventing diet-related diseases, said President Biden on Wednesday. Framing the task in epic terms, he called on government and society to step up. “This could be a giant step,” he said. “This could remind us who the hell we are.” (No paywall)

Hunger conference is partisan gathering, say House Republicans

The White House forfeited its opportunity for a bipartisan outcome of its hunger conference next week, so it should expect open skepticism about its recommendations, said five senior House Republicans on Wednesday.

Largest U.S. Covid fraud scheme victimized child nutrition program, say feds

The Justice Department on Thursday accused 47 people of looting $250 million from the federal child nutrition program by fraudulently claiming to feed thousands of poor children daily in Minnesota during the pandemic. Instead, they allegedly spent the money on cars, houses, jewelry, travel and real estate the United States, Kenya and Turkey in what Attorney General Merrick Garland said was "the largest pandemic relief fraud scheme" yet.

Make school lunches free again, say House Democrats

Nearly one of every four Democrats in the House signed a letter to congressional leaders on Thursday, asking for a return to universal free school lunches and breakfasts.

Will a state-level push for free school meals spur federal action?

When the government made school meals temporarily free to virtually all public school students in 2020, the intent was to buffer children and families from the spike in hunger and economic hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. It also inadvertently turned out to be a pilot project for something anti-hunger groups had been pushing for years: making school food free, permanently, for all public school students, regardless of income. (No paywall)

White house sets hunger conference for Sept. 28

The Biden administration on Monday set a date of Sept. 28 for the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in Washington, D.C. The conference will be the first of its kind in more than 50 years.

Report urges ‘radical systemic’ change in U.S. food and nutrition policy

With the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health weeks away, a broad group of advocates, academics and experts on Tuesday called for "radical systemic changes" in order to address food insecurity, diet-related disease and health inequities.(No paywall)

School lunch report: Shortages in supplies and labor

With a new academic year on the horizon, K through 12 food directors are ready with tricks to keep meals flowing, such as cutting pizza boxes and clamshell containers in half when lunch trays are not available, said a report by the School Nutrition Association on Tuesday. "The supply chain crisis, labor shortages and high costs are a long-term reality for school meal programs," said SNA president Lori Adkins.

Another increase in USDA reimbursements for school meals

Responding to food inflation, the Agriculture Department said it would increase reimbursements to schools by about $1.3 billion for meals served during the 2022/23 academic year compared to the past school year. Schools would receive an additional $3 billion under a school nutrition bill passed by Congress last month.

FDA says it will permanently streamline infant formula imports

A crash program to streamline U.S. imports of infant formula has worked so well, the FDA will make it permanent, said agency leaders on Wednesday. The program, which began in May when domestic supplies ran low, has resulted in shipments from nine countries of enough formula to fill 400 million 8-ounce bottles.

USDA funds to help schools buy food

The Biden administration said it would provide an additional $943 million in USDA funds to schools so they can purchase American-grown food for their meal programs.

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