Highlights the Role of School Breakfast Programs in Building a Foundation for American Competiveness
WASHINGTON, March 7, 2011 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today marked National School Breakfast Week (March 7-12) by emphasizing the administration's commitment to provide schoolchildren with healthy, well-balanced meals to prepare them for a productive school day. Working with First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative, USDA is enhancing programs that will help to raise a healthier generation of students who will enter the classroom ready to concentrate, engage and learn.
"A nutritious breakfast will help our children learn better and have the energy needed for academic success," said Vilsack. "By ensuring all children have access to a healthy breakfast, we help lay the groundwork for a successful day and build a foundation for achievement that will help our kids win the future."
On Wednesday, Secretary Vilsack will speak to the School Nutrition Association, one of USDA's partner organizations that is working to raise awareness of the the School Breakfast Program (SBP). The SBP serves over 12 million children in 88,000 schools and residential child care institutions each day. The program offers children of all economic backgrounds breakfasts that are consistent with the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the Federal poverty level are eligible for free meals in the SBP. Those with higher incomes may be eligible for reduced priced meals.
"Participation in the School Breakfast Program is an important vehicle to meet the nutritional needs of children," said Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. "Thanks to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed into law by President Obama, we will be able to enroll many more children in our school feeding programs and greatly improve the quality of meals served in schools."
USDA recently announced that it will be investing $5.5 million in grants with approximately $2.5 million set aside to provide non-competitive grants (up to $50,000) to each State Agency that commits to specific strategies to increase the number of HealthierUS School Challenge (HUSSC) applications submitted for approval. Up to $350,000 may be requested to include both competitive and non-competitive grants.
The HealthierUS School Challenge is a key component of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to end childhood obesity within a generation. Schools participating in the challenge voluntarily adopt USDA standards for food they serve at their schools, agree to provide nutrition education and provide opportunities for physical activity.
Improving child nutrition is the focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed by President Obama in December 2010. The legislation authorizes USDA'S child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Summer Food Service Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. The Act allows USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children, and help a new generation win the future by having healthier lives. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the school meals programs that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Visit www.fns.usda.gov for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs.
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