The Child Nutrition Programs include the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, Summer Food Service Program, and WIC programs. Serving more than 30 million children, students and women every day, these programs create a safety net that ensures children and adolescents at risk for poor nutritional intakes have access to a safe, adequate, and nutritious food supply and nutrition screening, assessment and intervention. It is important that continued funding be provided for these programs, which consistently show a positive impact on child and adolescent health and well-being.
Child Nutrition Reauthorization provides an opportunity to elevate nutrition in the Child Nutrition and WIC programs. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics calls for the next Child Nutrition Reauthorization to address five key areas.
- Ensure the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are the foundation of federal food assistance and nutrition programs.
- Provide adequate funding for program implementation.
- Strengthen nutrition education and promotion.
- Increase funding for Child Nutrition Program research.
- Place trained professionals in roles where policies are made. Directors of the School Nutrition Program at the district level should be certified Registered Dietitians; Dietetic Technicians, Registered; or School Nutrition Association School Nutrition Specialists.
Childhood obesity is a priority issue for the Academy and child nutrition programs are a target area in the prevention of obesity. Since dietary habits are established early in life, it is important to teach proper nutrition as early as possible. Healthy eating and physical activity help children grow and can prevent many health problems later in life. Obesity in youth often carries over into adulthood, contributing to the development of many chronic diseases including heart disease and diabetes.
The Academy's work on Child Nutrition Reauthorization is based on recommendations from the Academy's Competitive Foods Task Force. Those recommendations, which put the Academy in the forefront in calling for stronger Child Nutrition Programs during the last reauthorization, were groundbreaking and remain relevant and timely for the current reauthorization.
Opportunities in Child Nutrition programs abound for registered dietitians and dietetic technicians, registered. The requirement for school districts to develop and implement local wellness policies has been a driving force in building momentum toward national improvements in school food environments and is a key opportunity for Academy members to participate in policy development and implementation at the local level.