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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.

Harkin¹s amendment is excellent because it would prohibit schools from selling competitive foods (foods that ³compete² 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 industry¹s profits.  But, sadly, it¹s true. And it¹s 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 Harkin¹s 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/article_id/124 http://www.commercialalert.org/index.php/category_id/2/subcategory_id/ 34/article_id/122

Following is an excerpt from article about Sen. Harkin¹s 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.