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Thursday, December 2, 2010
Djou, Hirono back Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010
By News Release @ 7:44 PM :: 6800 Views :: Energy, Environment, National News, Ethics


Washington, DC — Congressman Charles K. Djou (HI-01) issued the following statement after voting for S. 3307 , the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010:”

“I have consistently voted in the best interests of the people of Hawaii, not simply along party lines.  I am happy to join my colleagues across the aisle as well as the First Lady, Michelle Obama, in supporting the improvement of the health of our nation’s children.  This measure will ensure that our nation’s poorest do not go hungry and that our nation’s youngest are given an early opportunity to develop a healthy lifestyle.  And most importantly, this measure was not deficit-financed.  Moving forward, it is my hope that the United States Congress will continue to advocate for policies that do not add to our nation’s deficit.”


Hirono: The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act

Our keiki’s health is a crucial priority.  Today I voted to send a landmark child nutrition bill to President Obama for his signature.  The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (S. 3307) is the largest federal effort in 30 years to fight childhood obesity and hunger in Hawaii and nationwide.

We’ve seen the statistics.  Hawaii faced a 15 percent increase in diabetes rates from 2005 to 2009, and 28.5 percent of youth in Hawaii ages 10-17 are obese.  Meanwhile, 9.1 percent of Hawaii residents are “food insecure,” lacking consistent access to enough food for a healthy and productive life. 

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act will take crucial steps to fight childhood obesity.  The new law authorizes a higher reimbursement rate for schools that serve healthier meals.  This is the first reimbursement rate increase in 30 years.  The law will apply the latest dietary guidelines to all food served in schools, keeping junk food and soda out of vending machines and the cafeteria.  Over 100,000 Hawaii students participate in the federal school lunch program.

I have visited school gardens at several schools in Hawaii, seeing firsthand how Farm-to-School programs can teach children about healthy eating as part of the curriculum.  These programs can also help Hawaii farmers get their food into local schools.  The new law includes $40 million in grants for Farm-to-School programs nationwide. 

Hungry kids cannot learn.  To fight child hunger, the new law will increase reimbursements for programs serving after-school, weekend, and summer meals.  The law will also make it easier for schools to automatically enroll students in school lunch and breakfast programs using existing poverty data from Medicaid, foster care, Census, or the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps).  Currently, schools in many states require families to submit a cumbersome paper application form each year. 

The new law will also will fund school wellness policies to help schools promote nutrition and physical education.  To help new mothers and our youngest children, the bill will support a healthier food packet for over 37,000 Hawaii participants in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, integrating support for breastfeeding and the latest research on neonatal nutrition.

I want to acknowledge that this bill is not as strong as I or some of my constituents would have liked.  As a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, I voted for a stronger version of the child nutrition bill that maintained Recovery Act support for SNAP (food stamp) benefits and included an innovative amendment to support plant-based and nondairy food in schools.  The House bill also included my amendment to increase reimbursement rates for areas such as Hawaii that have higher food costs.  I will continue fighting for these initiatives in the future, but the Senate bill was the last, best hope to make crucial improvements for child nutrition this year. 
90 percent of the opposition party voted against the bill today, and next year’s incoming House leadership has expressed clear opposition to these investments in child nutrition.

To read bill text and status from the Library of Congress, click here.

To read bill summaries, click here.

To read a support letter for the bill from over 1,300 national and local organizations, including 14 from Hawaii, click here.

To read about my visits to school gardens and my support for Farm-to-School programs, click here for video or here for text.

To read archived information on the House Education and Labor Committee’s child nutrition bill, click here

To read more about the Hirono amendment to increase reimbursement rates for Hawaii, click here.


Mazie K. Hirono
Member of Congress
2nd District of Hawaii


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