Southland reactions to new federal child nutrition legislation

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President Barack Obama signs the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 with Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn., left), Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif., second from left), first lady Michelle Obama (right), third-grader Luis Avilar-Turcios (second from right) and seventh-grader Tammy Nguyen (third from right) at Harriet Tubman Elementary School on Dec. 13, 2010 in Washington, D.C. In an effort to provide children with better school lunches and breakfasts, the new law puts $4.5 billion in the hands of child nutrition programs, sets nutrition standards on school vending machines, helps create school gardens and makes sure that quality drinking water is available during meal times.

Southland school districts welcomed the new federal child nutrition funding signed into law on Monday by President Barack Obama. For LA Unified, it means an extra $6 million a year for its school lunch program.

The new law adds $4.5 billion to child nutrition programs over the next decade. It also opens up eligibility for federally subsidized meals, promotes school gardens and sets new standards for all food sold at public schools.

The law also increases funding for innovated nutrition programs such as the one overseen by Arthur Cummins at the Orange County Office of Education. It reaches 10 school districts in Orange County.

"Staff will train teachers on how to integrate messages of nutrition into core curriculum and they also do outreach to parents who, of course, are an important part of bringing messages and lessons of nutrition to kids," Cummins explains.

Another program folds nutrition lessons into outdoor science projects. Cummins says county districts have been busy complying with a state law that requires school boards to adopt “wellness policies” to promote good nutrition. But he worries that as school districts lay off employees, there will be fewer people at schools to pass on lessons about healthy eating.

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