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Action Alert: Tell Your Local School Board to Kick Junk Foods Out of Schools

Commercial Alert, July 7, 2004

Last Wednesday, President Bush signed into law the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, which contained an amendment requiring local school boards to adopt wellness policies to promote health and reduce childhood obesity. The wellness policies must include nutrition guidelines for foods and beverages sold or served to children at school. School boards must adopt the wellness policies by the first day of the 2006-7 school year.

This new law is a great opportunity to reduce junk food marketing and sales in schools across the country.

What you can do
1) Tell your local school board members to adopt a wellness policy based on the Childhood Obesity Prevention Agenda (www.commercialalert.org/copa.pdf <http://www.commercialalert.org/copa.pdf> ), to improve child health and reduce the incidence of childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes. At a minimum, any school wellness policy should include a ban on junk food marketing and sales in schools, and a ban on Channel One, which advertises for junk food and soda pop.

The Childhood Obesity Prevention Agenda has been endorsed by leading authors, scientists and obesity experts from Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, and Yale, along with the American College of Preventive Medicine, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Eagle Forum, Green Party of the United States, Organic Consumers Association, and the Yale Prevention Research Center. Other endorsers include: Lawrence Cheskin (Director, Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center); Greg Critser (author, Fat Land); Frances Moore Lappe (author, Diet for a Small Planet); Marion Nestle (author, Food Politics); Peggy O’Mara (Publisher, Mothering Magazine); Alvin Poussaint (Harvard Medical School); Raffi (children’s troubadour); Ellen Ruppel Shell (author, The Hungry Gene); Walter Willett (Harvard School of Public Health)

2) Thank U.S. Senator Tom Harkin for winning the school wellness policy amendment. You can email Sen. Harkin’s staffer, Derek Miller, at Derek_Miller@agriculture.senate.gov.

Background
Following is the text of the new law (Sec. 204 of S. 2507):

http://www.commercialalert.org/wellnesslaw.pdf

SEC. 204. LOCAL WELLNESS POLICY.

(a) IN GENERAL- Not later than the first day of the school year beginning after June 30, 2006, each local educational agency participating in a program authorized by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq.) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq.) shall establish a local school wellness policy for schools under the local educational agency that, at a minimum--

(1) includes goals for nutrition education, physical activity, and other school-based activities that are designed to promote student wellness in a manner that the local educational agency determines is appropriate;

(2) includes nutrition guidelines selected by the local educational agency for all foods available on each school campus under the local educational agency during the school day with the objectives of promoting student health and reducing childhood obesity;

(3) provides an assurance that guidelines for reimbursable school meals shall not be less restrictive than regulations and guidance issued by the Secretary of Agriculture pursuant to subsections (a) and (b) of section 10 of the Child Nutrition Act (42 U.S.C. 1779) and sections 9(f)(1) and 17(a) of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1758(f)(1), 1766(a)), as those regulations and guidance apply to schools;

(4) establishes a plan for measuring implementation of the local wellness policy, including designation of 1 or more persons within the local educational agency or at each school, as appropriate, charged with operational responsibility for ensuring that the school meets the local wellness policy; and

(5) involves parents, students, representatives of the school food authority, the school board, school administrators, and the public in the development of the school wellness policy.

(b) TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE AND BEST PRACTICES-

(1) IN GENERAL- The Secretary, in coordination with the Secretary of Education and in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, acting through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shall make available to local educational agencies, school food authorities, and State educational agencies, on request, information and technical assistance for use in--

(A) establishing healthy school nutrition environments;

(B) reducing childhood obesity; and

(C) preventing diet-related chronic diseases.

(2) CONTENT- Technical assistance provided by the Secretary under this subsection shall--

(A) include relevant and applicable examples of schools and local educational agencies that have taken steps to offer healthy options for foods sold or served in schools;

(B) include such other technical assistance as is required to carry out the goals of promoting sound nutrition and establishing healthy school nutrition environments that are consistent with this section;

(C) be provided in such a manner as to be consistent with the specific needs and requirements of local educational agencies; and

(D) be for guidance purposes only and not be construed as binding or as a mandate to schools, local educational agencies, school food authorities, or State educational agencies.

(3) FUNDING-

(A) IN GENERAL- On July 1, 2006, out of any funds in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, the Secretary of the Treasury shall transfer to the Secretary of Agriculture to carry out this subsection $4,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2009.

(B) RECEIPT AND ACCEPTANCE- The Secretary shall be entitled to receive, shall accept, and shall use to carry out this subsection the funds transferred under subparagraph (A), without further appropriation.

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About Commercial Alert
Commercial Alert is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere, and to prevent it from exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family, community, environmental integrity and democracy. For more information, go to http://www.commercialalert.org.

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