Washington, DC—Senate Democrats and nutrition experts held a press conference today to discuss the important nutrition programs in the farm bill – the Food and Energy Security Act of 2007 – and the impact these investments will have on our children’s health. The bill expands access to the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program to reach millions of elementary schools nationwide, and increases funding, grants and research to growers of fruits, vegetables and other specialty crops.
“The farm bill is called The Food and Energy Security Act of 2007 for a reason,” said Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. “This bill updates The Food Stamp Program in important ways and addresses poor health and nutrition among America’s children. Our bill also addresses the childhood obesity epidemic by authorizing a major – I would say historic – expansion of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program for schools, a program that I initiated in the 2002 farm bill.”
Said Senator Debbie Stabenow: “When we see rising rates of chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease that are tied to poor nutrition, ensuring our children have access to healthy food choices is an important investment in America’s future. I am pleased to say, for the first time, there is a significant package to help the growers who supply a vital source of natural, healthy foods for American consumers.”
“An apple a day along with other fresh fruits and vegetables really do keep the doctor away,” Senator Bob Casey said. “Children who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables are healthier and have a better start in life. This Farm Bill provides additional funding for the snack program and for food stamps which will help children receive the valuable nutrition they need growing up. We have a moral obligation to protect our children.”
Said Senator Sherrod Brown: “American farmers provide us with the lowest cost food in the world. But in the midst of that plenty, millions of Americans go hungry. The farm bill the Senate is debating will greatly improve the food stamp program by indexing the standard deduction, allowing full deduction for child care expenses, indexing the asset limit, and excluding savings for education and retirement.”
“The right agriculture policies – like those in the farm bill – can help make a real difference between a long, healthy and productive life full of promise – or an early future of chronic disease, disability and death,” said Samuel Gidding, M.D., American Heart Association spokesman and pediatric cardiologist at A. I. DuPont Hospital for Children. “This is a wise investment in the health of our nation and it cannot come soon enough.”
“All persons should have adequate food and water to nourish their bodies. This is essential to the dignity of the human person,” said Father Clarence Williams, C.P.P.S., of Catholic Charities USA. “It is unacceptable in a nation as bountiful as ours that children, adults and senior citizens experience hunger that puts their physical, mental and developmental needs at risk. Catholic Charities USA is working with Congress and the Administration to improve access to adequate food and nutrition through our Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America. More and more, we see America’s working families turning to our food pantries and soup kitchens for food. The Nutrition Title of the Farm Bill provides significant resources to those who are hungry in this land of plenty – strengthening and expanding it is another step toward insuring no one will go hungry.”
Said American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Katherine Tallmadge, a registered dietitian: “More than 300 million Americans have an interest in a Farm Bill that establishes strong food and nutrition programs. This Nutrition Title makes progress towards improving children’s nutritional health.”