Children’s nutrition is getting all sorts of attention as Congress faces a do-or-die deadline on Capitol Hill.
Congress has until Sept. 30 to improve existing nutritional standards for school lunches. If no action is taken by the deadline, Congress will miss out on stimulus funds that can be used for implementing a new national nutritional plan. With the deadline looming, nutritional celebrities are out in full force.
While Brad Pitt talked about green buildings in a post-Katrina New Orleans on "Meet the Press", British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver took his support for healthy food in schools to ABC’s "This Week with Christiane Amanpour". Earlier in the month, first lady Michelle Obama took her crusade against childhood obesity to the editorial page of the Washington Post. The first lady’s letter came days before the U.S. Senate moved forward, with rare bipartisan support, on the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.” In the spring, celebrity chef Rachael Ray went public in her support of the U.S. House of Representative’s, “Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act.”
Both bills would allow greater access to free meals or reduced-cost meals, but it is the Senate’s $4.5 billion bill that is under consideration. The Senate’s version provides free meals to about 115,000 additional children, while establishing higher nutritional standards for food sold in schools during scheduled school days. The House’s $8 billion version of the bill is still in the "School House Rock" stages of approval. The lower chamber will now have to allocate time for both debate and a vote on the Senate’s $4.5 billion plan.
The deadline is near. Recess is almost over for Congress. School is now in session.