77th Annual Meeting

IN SUPPORT OF CHILD HEALTH AND NUTRITION

WHEREAS, regular access to healthy and affordable meals has been proven to be one of the strongest predictors of improved school performance; and

WHEREAS, urban school districts have led the way in developing healthy meal choices for kids, including through efforts to increase the supply of nutritious, locally-grown foods in school cafeterias; and

WHEREAS, among more than 30 million children who eat school food five days a week,180 days a year, millions of low-income children consume more than 50% of their total weekly caloric intake through school breakfast, lunch and snack programs; and

WHEREAS, these students consume a larger percentage of fruits and vegetables-more than 40%, through school food than any other food group in their diets; and

WHEREAS, the 2008 Farm Bill included support for programs that could increase access to health, locally-grown foods, including inter alia a 'buy local' (geographic preference) mandate, funding for Community Food Projects, fresh fruit and vegetable and healthy snack programs, etc.; and

WHEREAS, a commitment to 'buy local' can provide new and vital economic-development opportunities for small businesses, while reducing transport costs, wastage, and the' carbon footprint' of school food programs; and

WHEREAS, the US Conference of Mayors last year passed resolutions calling for implementation of policies to end the nation's childhood hunger crisis as well as funding for obesity prevention measures-both policies that a reauthorized Child Nutrition Act would help address; and

WHEREAS, Senators Tom Harkin and Lisa Murkowski have introduced legislation requiring USDA to establish science-based nutritional standards for foods served in schools that compete with school meal programs; and

WHEREAS, Representative George Miller, among others, has noted that reimbursement rates for school meals have not kept pace with inflation, making it more difficult for schools to provide healthy and nutritious meals that children want to eat-a finding also borne out by a recent survey of school district directors, 68% of whom expected that the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) reimbursement at the end of the 2007/08 school year would not meet their costs; and

WHEREAS, school lunches are significantly less costly than caloric-equivalent lunches from home-the average price for a school lunch for 2008-09 school year is $2.08, while the average cost of lunches prepared at home is $3.80, school lunches playing a role in hunger prevention that is both critical to child health, and cost-effective; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the United States Conference of Mayors urges Congress to adopt a budget resolution that includes $20 billion over five years for the Child Nutrition Reauthorization-and investment that will enable school nutrition programs to meet their goal of providing nutritious, balanced meals to children. This should also include a 35 cent per meal increase in reimbursement rates, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that USCM supports both the simplification of procurement rules pertaining to geographic preferences as well as a broader interpretation of the "buy local" language. USDA's unduly narrow interpretation of the 'geographic preferences' mandate thwarts the clear intent of Congress and prevents school districts from sourcing locally in order to prepare more nourishing school meals; and that USDA should create a 'Farm to School/Farm to Institution' division in order to strengthen implementation of 'buy local,' with its clear benefits to farmers and small businesses.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that USCM notes the substantial technical challenges associated with scaling up the use of fresh local foods in school cafeterias, and toward that end, supports funding for technical assistance providers to develop best practices on product sourcing, bid specifications, and menu planning, as well as support for evaluation of pilot programs, in collaboration with USDA's Food and Nutrition Service, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that USCM commends Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for making the fight against child obesity a priority in reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, for supporting 'buy-local' efforts, and committing to working closely with the Secretary in implementation of these programs.