Sunday, December 5, 2010

Organic Trade Association applauds passage of child nutrition bill Includes provision for organic pilot program in schools

Contact: Barbara Haumann (413-376-1220;

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 2, 2010)—The Organic Trade Association (OTA) today applauded Congress for passing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that includes a $10 million Organic Pilot Program OTA championed to help provide organic food choices in school nutrition programs.
“OTA is pleased that this important legislation has passed and very excited that it includes OTA’s proposal for an organic pilot program giving children access to organic foods as part of healthy school feeding programs,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s Executive Director and CEO. “The health status of our children is crucial to the well-being of our nation’s future, and the food that they are fed in schools is key to their health status.”

The bill, which passed the Senate before the August recess, moved through the House of Representatives today, with House passage in a 264-to-157 vote.

Under the Organic Pilot Program, competitive grants favoring socially disadvantaged schools will be offered for schools to increase organic offerings in their meal programs. Because the Organic Pilot Program is not mandatory, the Appropriations Committee will decide on funding for the program.

In the Senate, Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio sponsored the program in the Senate Agriculture Committee. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont also gave his support, with the program included in the Health, Hunger-Free Kids Act passing the Senate in a unanimous vote before the August recess.

Meanwhile, OTA worked with Rep. Lynn Woolsey of California to sponsor the program in the House Education and Labor Committee. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, also of Ohio, co-sponsored the amendment for inclusion in the House's Improving Nutrition for America's Children Act. OTA met with more than 20 House offices to build support for the program.

In addition to the Organic Pilot Program, the bill includes a $40 million Farm-to-School Program that OTA also supported. This mandatory funding will provide a robust competitive grant and technical assistance program in the U.S. Department of Agriculture to increase the use of local foods from small- and medium-sized farms in schools. The final bill also provides the first increase in meal reimbursement rates, other than that based on inflation, since the 1970s, and streamlines enrollment in school meal programs

Compared to the Senate bill, the House Education and Labor bill was substantially more expensive. Therefore, the House voted to pass the Senate's Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which costs $4.5 billion and is offset by supplemental food stamp benefits from the stimulus bill.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. OTA's mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy (

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