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On June 8, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its School Meals Initiative for Healthy Children, which outlines proposed regulations for improving the nutritional standards for school feeding programs. The new rules, which would take effect July 1, 1998, are the first substantial revision of federal nutrition guidelines for school feeding programs since the National School Lunch Program was started in 1946. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) was quick to support USDA's efforts to improve school feeding programs and to offer the Association's continued guidance and expertise on child nutrition issues. USDA's School Meals Initiative for Healthy Children incorporates several changes recommended by ADA, notably that schools use a nutrient-based menu plan that meets the 1990 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Reform of federal child nutrition programs has been a prime focus of ADA's advocacy efforts this year. In the past months, ADA has testified at several USDA and congressional hearings regarding reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act and the future of child nutrition programs. In May, Rachel Johnson, PhD, RD, an assistant professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Vermont and member of ADA's Health Care Reform Team, represented ADA before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry. On June 10, ADA President-elect Doris Derelian, PhD, RD, testified before the Nutrition and Investigations Subcommittee of the Senate Agriculture Committee. At both hearings, Johnson and Derelian declared ADA's support of S 1614, the Better Nutrition and Health for Children Act of 1993, describing the legislation as a "step in the right direction...[that will] benefit our nation's most valuable resource, children."
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