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)
Public schools would face their first-ever limit on sugar in the food they serve in their cafeterias as part of an Agriculture Department proposal for healthier meals. The USDA package called for a staggered phase-in of new standards on sugar, sodium, whole grains and flavored milk, but was criticized as costly and unworkable by school food directors.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine fueled a sharp rise in food prices last winter, but prices have fallen for 10 straight months, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
The Agriculture Department proposed an update to the WIC program on Thursday that would let participants buy three, or even four, times as many fruits and vegetables and would broaden the range of foods available through the program to reflect the diversity of the American diet. The expansion of fruit and vegetable allowances would increase WIC spending by 14 percent and require Congress to appropriate additional money to the $6 billion-a-year program.
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)
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.
Since last spring, participants in WIC, the federal government’s health and nutritional safety net for low-income parents, infants and children, have been getting about three times as much as they normally get to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables. The temporary benefit boost, designed to address food and nutrition insecurity during the pandemic, has increased fruit and vegetable consumption among participating children and spurred more than $1 billion in spending, according to a new report from the National WIC Association.(No paywall)
Poverty, hunger and poor health are interlinked problems, ones that some doctors and medical systems are trying to address by screening patients for food insecurity, connecting them with food and other resources, and advocating broadly against inequality.(No paywall)
Next fall, the Biden administration will propose new nutrition standards for school meals, the the first attempt to strengthen the rules since 2012. Health advocates are already starting to make their wish lists known—further lowering sodium, making meals more nutritious and, for the first time ever, capping the amount of added sugar in food served to students. (No paywall)
With Americans consuming 50 percent more salt than recommended, the FDA issued voluntary guidelines on Wednesday that would reduce sodium content in packaged and restaurant food, the major source of salt in the diet. The FDA said guidelines might "become one of the most significant public health nutrition interventions in a generation."
In the U.S., the field of dietetics and nutrition — and, accordingly, the corps of professionals who shape how Americans understand dietary health, in part by helping draft the national dietary guidelines — has a diversity problem. Over 71 percent of the country’s registered dietitians are white, and unpaid internships and high tuition costs create barriers to entry that have made the field an increasingly elite profession. (No paywall)
The Biden administration will increase SNAP benefits by an average of 25 percent on Oct. 1 — the largest increase in the history of food stamps — based on a reassessment of the cost of a nutritious diet. Analysts and anti-hunger advocates said on Sunday that the increase would improve the diets of millions of poor Americans.(No paywall)
Participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, face significant hurdles in putting nutritious food on the table each month, according to a USDA study released yesterday. (No paywall)
Sen. Cory Booker, the new chairman of the Senate nutrition subcommittee called for a permanent food box program to deliver fresh fruits and vegetables to communities "in desperate need for healthy produce." Booker also said $20 billion a year should be devoted to USDA climate mitigation programs and that a moratorium should be imposed on mergers in the agricultural sector.(No paywall)
School nutrition standards haven’t been updated since 2010, when the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act — former First Lady Michelle Obama’s overhaul of school nutrition standards that mandated more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and reduced sodium — was passed. As Congress moves forward with a long-overdue Child Nutrition Reauthorization, lawmakers and advocates are sparring over what changes, if any, should be made to the food kids eat at school.(No paywall)
U.S. anti-hunger programs should address the twin challenges of nutrition — supplying enough food and encouraging diets built around healthy food — at the same time after decades of focusing on a lack of food for poor Americans, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday.
The Covid-19 pandemic has limited trips to the grocery store, shut down neighborhood markets and generally made it harder for people struggling financially to find affordable healthy food, reports Bloomberg. As a result, more people are relying on cheaper and more easily accessible fast and ultra-processed food, driving up rates of obesity around the world.
Americans should halve their consumption of added sugars, and men should limit themselves to one drink a day, said a panel of experts helping the government update its advice on healthful diets. The advisory committee report, published on Wednesday, is expected to provide the scientific foundation for a new edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, scheduled for publication late this year.
Rising levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will reduce the amount of nutrients in staple crops such as rice and wheat, say researchers at Harvard's public health school. As a consequence, more than 1 billion women and children would lose a large amount of their dietary iron intake and be at larger risk of anemia and other diseases.