Childhood Obesity Policy Update: November 26, 2013

    • November 26, 2013

Federal Policy

USDA Announces New Farm to School Grants
Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack awarded Fiscal Year 2014 grants for USDA’s Farm to School Program last week, an initiative that helps school districts buy locally-grown food for school meals and provide nutrition education to students. Seventy-one grants were awarded in 42 states and the District of Columbia; according to USDA, the funded projects will support 13,000 schools and 2.8 million students nationwide, nearly 45 percent of whom live in rural areas.

Senators Introduce Menu Labeling Bill
Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., introduced the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act last week, a bill that would exempt grocery stores and pizza delivery retailers from upcoming federal menu labeling requirements. The pending regulations—which are expected “soon,” per recent comments from Food and Drug Administration Commission Margaret Hamburg—will require chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to post calorie information on their menus. A House companion bill was introduced earlier this year by Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., and Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif. 


State and Local Policy

Second Soda Tax Proposal Introduced in San Francisco
San Francisco City Supervisor Eric Mar introduced legislation last week that would place a two cents-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The size of the tax mirrors a proposal put forward by fellow Supervisor Scott Weiner earlier this month; while the Weiner proposal would split the estimated $30 million in revenue evenly between the city’s school district, parks department, and health department, the Mar proposal would divide the revenue between the city’s schools and agencies working directly in low-income communities of color. The two supervisors pledged to work with each other to ultimately put forward one proposal before the city council and voters in 2014.    

Austin Rejects Limits on Fast Food Locations
By a vote of 4-3, the Austin, Texas, city council rejected a resolution last week that would have restricted fast-food restaurants from locating near areas that children frequent, including schools, parks, child care centers, and libraries. The resolution—which would have covered establishments built following passage and would have also provided incentives for local convenience stores to carry healthier items—was based on a model ordinance crafted by the National Policy and Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity. 


From the Field

Poll: Nearly 80 Percent of Principals Support School Breakfast in Classroom
A poll conducted by the Food Research and Action Center and the National Association of Elementary School Principals Foundation found that 78 percent of school principals support Breakfast in the Classroom, an initiative designed to increase the number of students who eat breakfast at school by serving it in the classroom instead of the cafeteria. Eight-five percent of principals surveyed said the program increased school breakfast participation, while 61 percent reported fewer incidents of student hunger; more than one-third of principals said the program led to fewer tardy students, improved student attentiveness, and an improved school and classroom environment.

Guidelines Released for Healthier Restaurant Meals
Restaurant meals should include strict limits on calories, saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar—and include fruits or vegetables as a matter of course—according to guidelines released by 38 national nutrition and public health experts recently convened by the RAND Corporation. “Based on the best available science, while also considering feasibility and acceptability,” the guidelines also recommend that the meals should not include sugar-sweetened beverages, and that communities or states should develop an implementation strategy like certification programs to evaluate adherence to the guidelines.  


Upcoming Events

MOFAD Roundtable: The NYC Soda Regulation
December 5, 2013
6:30 – 8:00 PM ET
New York, New York

Sponsored by the Museum of Food and Drink and the NYC Food Policy Center, this live debate will address New York City’s proposed soda size limitation. Register to attend the debate.

Obesity: Food Policy, Production and Delivery
December 5, 2013
8:00 – 9:00 PM ET

Hosted by the Obesity Action Coalition, this webinar will explore how food policy, production, and delivery contribute to the obesity epidemic. Register for the webinar.

2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Second Meeting
January 13-14, 2014
Washington D.C.

Hosted by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, this will be the second meeting of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The meeting was originally scheduled for October 3-4, 2013 but was rescheduled due to the government shutdown.  A federal register notice with more information will be published in the coming weeks.  Learn more about the Advisory Committee