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Tell Congress to Get Our Schools Out of the Junk Foods Business

Commercial Alert, June 3, 2004

Coming soon: a rare opportunity to prod schools to serve more healthy food
to children ­ nationwide.

Congress is in the middle of reauthorizing the Child Nutrition Act, which
governs the food schools feed our children.

U.S. Senator Tom Harkin plans to offer an amendment to require schools to
adopt wellness policies, and to only sell foods that are consistent with it.
It would also ask the Institute of Medicine to recommend nutritional
standards for foods sold to or eaten by children in school.

Harkin's amendment is excellent because it would prohibit schools from
selling competitive foods (foods that "compete" with the school lunch and
breakfast programs, such as vending machines, school stores, fast food,
etc.) except as authorized by their wellness policies. In effect, this puts
up a big new barrier to selling junk food, and encourages them to serve
healthy food instead.

The soda and junk food companies will surely do everything in their power to
defeat the Harkin Amendment. Strong opposition from soda companies and the
senators from Coca-Cola -- Sens. Zell Miller and Saxby Chambliss, both from
Coke¹s home state of Georgia ­ killed a similar amendment by Sen. Harkin
last month in the Senate Agriculture Committee.

It may sound incredible to you that our Congress is so dominated by the junk
food industry that it would sacrifice the health of our children to protect
the industry's profits. But, sadly, it¹s true. And it's why we need your
help -- so that we can win this time on the Senate floor.

What you can do to help
Ask your U.S. Senators to support the Harkin Amendment to establish local
school wellness policies. To send an email to your U.S. Senators, click
here: http://actionstudio.org/?go=711. The congressional switchboard phone
is 202.225.3121.

Background
Senator Harkin's previous amendment on school wellness policies is at:
http://www.commercialalert.org/harkinschoolfood.pdf

More information about the sale of soda pop and junk food in schools is at:
http://www.commercialalert.org/index.php/category_id/2/subcategory_id/36/art
icle_id/124
http://www.commercialalert.org/index.php/category_id/2/subcategory_id/34/art
icle_id/122

Following is an excerpt from article about Sen. Harkin's amendment,
published on May 20th in the Des Moines Register.

Proposal to Analyze School Food is Defeated
by Philip Brasher

Washington, D.C. - Given the concerns about the rising rate of obesity among
children, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin said it was time to look at the meals and
junk food served at school.

Fat chance.

The Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday rejected 13-7 his proposal to
have the National Academy of Sciences study the nutritional content of the
food and drinks children are getting at school.

Too many schools are selling sodas, chips and candy to pad local budgets,
the Iowa Democrat said.

"We know that bad things are happening," Harkin said.

The soft-drink industry has long fought attempts to restrict what schools
can sell. The strongest opposition to Harkin's proposal came from the two
senators from Georgia, home of Coca-Cola Co.

"Our kids are not obese because of what they eat at school," said Sen. Zell
Miller, D-Ga. "They're obese because they sit around on their duffs watching
TV and playing video games."

Harkin was trying to add the study requirement to a bill reauthorizing the
federal school lunch program and other nutrition assistance. He said he will
raise the school issue again when the bill is considered on the Senate
floor.

-------excerpt ends here------

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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