Archive for December 4, 2010
Iowa's Dave Loebsack on the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act
December 2, 2010
Given your interest in improving school meals and nutrition for Iowa's children, it's my pleasure to let you know that today the House of Representatives passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, S. 3307. You can see me speaking about the bill here. The bill passed the House by a bi-partisan vote of 258-156. The bill previously passed the Senate unanimously and will now be sent to the President for his signature.
This re-authorization bill is a truly historic piece of legislation and is one of the most significant recent steps to help end childhood hunger and obesity in America. It is far from perfect, but is a dramatic improvement over the status quo, and will improve the quality of meals and access to before, during, after-school, and summer meals for millions of children nationwide.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently reported that in 2009, over 450,000 families with children had one or more children who did not get enough to eat. In my eyes, this is simply unacceptable in the wealthiest and most advanced nation on earth. In order to prepare our children to compete in an increasingly global economy, we must make childhood nutrition a priority. This legislation takes major steps to address these issues in the places where our children learn and grow.
To that end, I was happy to have a number of provisions I authored included in this final legislation. I am proud that the bill includes my entire Healthy Food for Healthy Schools Act and also includes nearly all the crucial provisions of the Hunger Free Schools Act. Together, these provisions will ensure schools have healthier options for school foods and will give kids new and easier access to school meals.
Specifically, the provisions from the Healthy Food for Healthy Schools Act will improve the quality and healthfulness of school food products and their processing and will ensure schools have the information they need to make healthy choices for school foods and menus. Additionally, provisions from my Hunger Free Schools Act will give new access to school meals to over 110,000 students nationwide and cut red tape while improving access for hundreds of thousands more children nationwide.
The provisions of the Hunger Free Schools Act will: expand automatic enrollment in the school meals program through the use of Medicaid data thereby lessening the administrative costs and red tape on schools and parents; provide incentives to states to improve their level of automatic enrollment of kids for schools meals; and give high poverty schools a new option to serve free meals to all students – this will also significantly reduce the administrative burden on schools that really need to be focusing on teaching, not paperwork.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 will also increase the per-meal reimbursement rates for schools for the first time in over 30 years and includes key provisions I supported for local foods through the Farm to School Program. Further, this bill is going to reduce the availability of junk foods and sugary beverages on school campuses, strengthen local wellness policies, improve public and private partnerships to reduce childhood hunger and obesity, and also improve nutrition and wellness for children in child care.
I am happy this legislation included provisions I wrote, but most importantly, I hope children will be healthier, will have a better learning environment, and that our child nutrition programs will fulfill our commitment to ending childhood hunger through this legislation. Thank you for your support for this effort and your work on behalf of Iowa's children.
Member of Congress
Dave Loebsack was first elected to the United States House of
Representatives in 2006 and represents the Second District of Iowa. He serves on The House Education and Labor Committee and The House Armed Services Committee. To learn more about Congressman Loebsack click here.
44,000 Iowans Declared Financial Casualties In GOP War With Obama Administration
By David VanThournout
We’ll it appears that the Grumpy Old Party has a soft spot for the mega-wealthy but not for the average hard working and out of a job through no fault of their own Americans. Big surprise there. Never mind that everything points to the loss of jobs as the number one problem the economy faces and is going to further guarantee the loss of profitability in the private sector. Which of course, in light of recent record profits on Wall Street, will not effect the bottom line at all as I’m sure they’ll just be terminating all the people hired temporarily during the holiday season to serve those that still remain employed.
I spoke with Research Associate Noga O’Connor, who reviews employment trends for the nonpartisan Iowa Policy Project and she explained: “By not extending unemployment insurance — historically unprecedented with national unemployment rates near double digits — Congress immediately cut off or reduced benefits for about 44,000 Iowans. That will hurt the Iowa recovery, as unemployment benefits are spent immediately in the economy.”
“Though there have been some good signs in the Iowa economy, Iowa still has a high jobless rate of 6.7 percent and is about 50,000 jobs down since before the recession. Recovery will be slow, and we do not expect people who are losing unemployment benefits today to be able to quickly find jobs as we head into the holidays and winter.”
When I spoke to Ms. O’Connor she said; “based upon 2009 numbers, which were slightly higher than they are today, somewhere around 30 million less dollars per month would be coming into the Iowa economy because of the failure to extend benefits.” She later confirmed via email that for the month of October 2010 $31.4 Million in benefits were paid to Iowans. Ms. O’Connor also pointed out that most of the money that people receive in unemployment benefits goes directly back into the economy rather than into savings and would therefore have an immediate and direct negative impact upon the Iowa economy.
What might this mean for an Iowa municipality? In the case of Bettendorf, IA which represents slightly more than 1 percent of Iowa’s population and would see a reduction of somewhere between $220,000 and $330,000 per month into the economy. For Davenport, IA this number could be as high as $1 million per month. This may seem like a small number to some people but to those that will no longer be receiving these minimal benefits it perhaps means losing health insurance, a place to live for them and their children and it certainly makes for a very bleak holiday season to look forward to. With unemployment still at historically high levels this recent congressional inaction seems to many like a particularly cold shoulder indeed from republicans who have repeatedly said they have one thing and one thing only on their agenda; Stop President Obama.
It appears that 2 million Americans were just caught in the GOP crossfire and will begin losing benefits immediately. What does this mean for the nations economy? In 2009 this nationally amounted to approx. $360 million per month. While this number is slightly lower this year, these benefits remain the only thing preventing homelessness and hunger for 44,000 Iowans and their dependents. It’s hard to get a handle on how many people this truly effects but it could be extremely serious for families and Iowa’s economy as well.
While deficit hawks through simple inaction have imposed austerity measures upon only the hardest hit Americans, they have failed to grasp that unemployment benefits actually saved 1.8 million jobs at the peak of the “great recession” according to a recent report by the U.S. Dept. of Labor. The report also found; “In total, unemployment insurance kept GDP $315 billion higher from the start of the recession through the second quarter of 2010.” In other words; by allowing unemployment benefits to end for so many Americans, republicans have guaranteed a slower economic recovery for all Americans and possibly endangered even more Americans jobs.
VanThournout lives on the Mississippi river in Rock Island. He plays
guitar, writes poetry and music, designs websites, and organizes for a
more just and peaceful world. More than a decade ago David began
demanding meaningful employment rather than mindless work making
widgets. David now requires that he loves what he does and that it
actually makes the world a better place in a way that is sustainable. Follow David on twitter at twitter.com/badweatherrr. E-mail David Van Thournout.