USDA announces update of WIC food packages

The USDA has completed a months-long update of the foods available through the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC) to reflect the latest nutrition science, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday. The new list, which includes a significant expansion of fruit and vegetable benefits, would take effect in about 60 days.

School food directors call for free meals for all students

Congress should offer free meals to all school students and increase the federal reimbursement for each meal that is served, said the School Nutrition Association on Tuesday, speaking for school food directors. "Research shows students eat their healthiest meals at school, and school nutrition programs need Congress' support to sustain that achievement," said SNA president Chris Derico.

Broad coalition calls on Congress to make school food free for all

A diverse group of nutrition advocates, environmentalists, medical associations, teachers unions and parent's groups are joining forces to push Congress to make school meals free for all children, regardless of their families' income. Until now, free school meals have been limited to children from low-income families, although rules were relaxed during the Covid-19 pandemic. (No paywall)

Midwestern states don’t believe in pesticide buffers around schools

Hundreds of schools in the Midwest "nestle against fields of corn and soybeans that are routinely sprayed with pesticides that could drift onto school grounds," but states "do not require any kind of buffer zones and seldom require any notification that pesticides are about to be sprayed," says the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting. Nine states in other parts of the country, with California the most prominent, have laws that mandate buffer zones.

Child obesity soared worldwide in two generations

Some 124 million boys and girls around the world are obese, putting the children at risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, said a team of researchers in the journal The Lancet. Obesity rates among youths ages 5-19 years are eight times higher today than they were in 1975 and exceed 20 percent in nations including the United States.

Study: Rural America helps poor kids earn more money later in life

Poor children growing up in three out of four rural counties — especially in the Great Plains — are more likely to earn more than the national average by the age of 26 than their counterparts in cities, says a national study by Stanford economist Raj Chetty. Just 29 percent of kids in densely populated urban centers earn more than the national average as adults.

Perdue names former House staffer to run USDA nutrition agency

Brandon Lipps, who helped engineer $8.6 billion in food stamp cuts in the 2014 farm law, is the new administrator of USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, which oversees food stamps, school lunch and other public nutrition programs. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the appointment of Lipps and two senior nutrition officials a day ahead of a trip, scheduled for today, to a summer meal site for school-aged children.

One-fifth of baby food samples contain detectable lead, says study

Roughly 20 percent of baby food samples showed detectable levels of lead, says a report out by the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund.

Bipartisan criticism of Trump nutrition cuts at House hearing

Two senior Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee said President Trump's proposals to cut public feeding programs at home and abroad would increase hunger in the world. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said a high-ranking Republican's defense of the Food for Peace program — targeted for elimination — was "essentially irrefutable" without suggesting the program would be saved.

Pediatrics group says kids and fruit juice don’t mix

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that far from being a healthy drink, "Fruit juice has no essential role in healthy, balanced diets of children." American children between the ages of 2 and 18 consume almost half their fruit intake in the form of juice, but doctors warn that has to stop.

Researchers find glyphosate in pregnant women, worry about impact on infants

A team of scientists this week released early results of an ongoing study spotlighting concerns about the rising use of pesticides and reproductive risks to women and children. The researchers tested and tracked, over a period of two years, the presence of the common herbicide glyphosate in the urine of 69 expectant mothers in Indiana.

Cost of raising a child drops by 5 percent in two years

Thanks to lower expected costs for housing and for childcare and schooling, parents will pay nearly 5 percent less to raise a child born in 2015 to adulthood than if their offspring arrived two years earlier, according to the government. The pricetag is mind-boggling all the same, at $233,610 for recently born children vs $245,340 for children born in 2013.

California’s draft rules on pesticide use near schools fall short, critics say

California’s newly released draft rules on pesticide use are designed to curtail the use of pesticides near schools and daycare centers, but critics say they don’t go far enough in reducing exposures to children. The draft rules released Thursday by the state's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) come more than two years after scientists with the Department of Public Health released a study showing that California growers applied more than half a million pounds of carcinogens, reproductive poisons and other hazardous pesticides within a quarter mile of public schools each year.

Rural children at risk from pesticides, says PANNA

Children face some of the greatest risk of exposure to dangerous pesticides when they live near farm fields or go to schools near them, says a report by Pesticide Action Network North America, which describes itself as a challenger of the global proliferation of pesticides.

Mixing pesticides can boost toxic effects and health risks

Regulators set exposure limits for pesticides based on comprehensive studies of the individual product. Scientists from UCLA say in a new report that this approach should be reconsidered because growers often apply pesticides as a mixture.

Fewer allergies among children on dairy farms

Children who live on farms with dairy cows run one-tenth the risk of developing allergies as other rural children, say researchers at the University of Gothenburg, in Sweden. Allergy rates have climbed in recent decades and one frequent explanation is that children are exposed to fewer micro-organism and have fewer infections than in the past, so their immune systems do not develop resistance.

USDA revamps supplemental food program

USDA published a final rule, effective in 30 days, in the Federal Register to "phase out the participation of women, infants, and children in CSFP (Commodity Supplemental Food Program) and transition it to a low-income, elderly-only program," as required by the 2014 farm policy law. Women and children will be served by WIC in coming years. A small portion of CSFP enrollment is women and children. They will remain in the program until the children exceed the age of eligibility.

Children eat 40 percent more salt than recommended

More than 90 percent of U.S. children eat far more salt than recommended by the government, putting them at risk for developing high blood pressure and heart disease later in life, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In a Vital Signs report, CDC researchers said that 43 percent of the sodium comes from the 10 foods most commonly eaten by children: pizza, bread and rolls, cold cuts/cured meats, savory snacks, sandwiches, cheese, chicken patties/nuggets/tenders, pasta mixed dishes, Mexican mixed dishes, and soups.

Green tobacco sickness and teenage farmhands

"(P)ublic health experts say hundreds of children under 16...continue to work in America’s tobacco fields" through an exclusion in labor law that allows youth as young as 12 years old to work unlimited hours as farm workers, says the New York Times in a story about youth labor on tobacco farms. The story says field workers risk green tobacco sickness - nicotine poisoning - from dew or rain water dripping from the leaves of tobacco plants. Vomiting, dizziness and irregular heartbeats are among the symptoms.

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