Courtney Opposes Misguided Child Nutrition Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) released the following statement after he voted against the Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 (H.R. 5003) in the House Education and the Workforce Committee. The bill was passed out of committee by a party-line vote.
“I am deeply disappointed that the majority leadership of our committee has decided to squander this opportunity to pass bipartisan legislation on an issue I think we all can get behind like child nutrition, and that’s why I voted against moving this bill forward earlier today,” said Courtney. “Making sure children are provided with adequate, nutritious meals is just as important as providing them with good teachers, and with quality textbooks. We know that children, who cannot get enough to eat at home and in school, cannot succeed to their full potential.
“This bill not only fails to promote greater food security for our nation’s children, it takes serious steps backward in terms of access to food at low-income schools, and diminishes the nutrition requirements for the food that is being provided. The bill also makes it harder for low-income students to access free meals at school by making the application process much more onerous for struggling families and schools to complete.
“The urgency of maintaining high nutrition standards in school lunch offering was driven home by Mission Readiness, a group of hundreds of retired military leaders who sounded the alarm about growing incidence of obesity that limits admission into military service by millions of Americans. Retreating on the 2010 standards will only exacerbate this harmful trend of increasing childhood obesity nationwide. I hope my Republican colleagues will reverse many of the policies included in this measure before final passage, and work with Democrats to make this a bipartisan effort on behalf of our countries most vulnerable children.”
A major provision in this bill would weaken the Community Eligibility Provision for schools, which is a successful federal option in its second year of nationwide implementation that reduces administrative burden and increases access to school lunch and breakfast in high‐poverty schools. The bill proposes to reduce substantially the number of high poverty schools that are eligible to implement community eligibility. In eastern Connecticut that means that 18 schools with an enrollment of 7,307 will be cut from the Community Eligibility Program. Nationwide, approximately 7,000 of the 18,000 schools currently participating would lose eligibility.
The bill is opposed by a diverse group of over 750 national, state, and local organizations that include child nutritionists, educators, physicians, anti-poverty advocates, agriculture industry groups, faith-based organizations and many others. This includes the following groups in Connecticut, who joined a letter to members of the Committee urging rejection of the bill because it “contains numerous provisions that would roll back years of progress”:
Collaborative Center for Justice
Connecticut Alliance for Basic Human Needs
Corazones Unidos Siempre Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority
End Hunger Connecticut!
Greater Hartford Legal Aid
Grow Hartford Youth Program
Hartford Food System, Inc.
Hispanic Health Council
Local Food Dude, LLC
New Milford Social Services
Town of Monroe Community and Social Services