During Kids Eat Right Month, Academy Urges Congress to Prioritize Nutrition Health for Nation's Children

During Kids Eat Right Month, celebrated in August, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (the Academy) urges Congress to prioritize the health, nutrition and wellbeing of millions of American children by reauthorizing and strengthening child nutrition programs.

Kids Eat Right Month is sponsored by the Academy, the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, and its charitable Foundation.

"Child nutrition programs provide an infrastructure that can be mobilized to improve the health of millions of children on a nationwide scale, while also improving school attendance, test scores, and educational attainment," says Academy President Dr. Evelyn F. Crayton, RDN. "Academy members, as registered dietitian nutritionists and dietetic technicians, registered, are the backbone of these programs, which help build a strong and healthy next generation."

Child Nutrition Reauthorization is a broad piece of legislation that includes Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), School Meals, Summer Food Service Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, Farm to School and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.

"The social and economic benefits of child nutrition programs extend into local communities, including improvements in the diet of other family members, more healthful options in the grocery stores, economic stimulus to communities, stable customers for American agriculture, job creation, and poverty reduction," Crayton says. "With such immense outcomes, it's essential that we act now to ensure these programs can continue long into the future."

As a part of Kids Eat Right Month, when the Academy and its Foundation draw increased attention to the need for healthful lifestyles for children and families, the Academy calls on Congress to take actions that will provide a healthful and vibrant future for children:

Nutrition Education. Ensure strong, comprehensive nutrition education is included in all child nutrition programs. "We must continue to support research that provides evidence-based improvements for comprehensive, nationwide nutrition education approaches that foster healthy behavior, educational attainments and lifelong health for all children," Crayton says.

WIC. Support the WIC program as an effective health care service and nutrition assistance program, while examining new policy structures that would optimize the health of mothers and their children.

School Meals. Support science-based nutrition standards that provide healthful, well-balanced meals to millions of children on a daily basis. "The Academy supports our member leaders who work in school nutrition. Their dedication to students is unparalleled and demonstrated through business savvy, delivery, and development of appealing menus and commitment to high-quality nutrition education," Crayton says.

Summer Food Service Programs. Expand access in innovative and effective ways to reach children in rural and underserved areas; and administrative streamlining with other programs, that allow this underutilized program to reach children throughout the summer months.

Child and Adult Care Food Programs. Ensure healthful meals and snacks are served to children in day care and after-school programs, by providing adequate reimbursement, nutrition education, and training to providers.

Farm-to-School. Provide funding and support expansion of this popular and effective grant program to include preschool, summer, after school and tribal communities.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Programs. Protect the integrity and intent of this program, which serves fresh fruit and vegetable snacks to the most vulnerable children.

The Academy convened an 11-member Child Nutrition Reauthorization Work Group to develop a vision for the future of these programs. The Work Group produced more than 20 recommendations for child nutrition programs, which will be considered by Congress when debates on Child Nutrition Reauthorization are scheduled to begin in the fall.

An initiative of the Academy Foundation's Kids Eat Right program, Kids Eat Right Month focuses on the importance of healthful eating and active lifestyles for children and families, featuring expert advice from registered dietitian nutritionists to help families achieve the Kids Eat Right core principles: "shop smart, cook healthy, and eat right."

The Kids Eat Right Month media kit is available now and includes the 2015 Kids Eat Right Month graphic, infographics, syndicated content, social media resources, and more.

--Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics