NEWS RELEASE
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (202)588-7746
For Immediate Release: April 6th, 2006

New Bill on Food in Schools Deserves Swift Passage, Says Commercial Alert

Commercial Alert applauded new bi-partisan legislation in Congress to restrict the sale of junk food in public schools.  The Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act would expand the definition of food of minimal nutritional value, and empower the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to stop the sale of unhealthy foods everywhere in school not just in school cafeterias.

“Our children are suffering from an obesity epidemic, but federal laws governing the sale of food in schools are a junk food manufacturers dream,” said Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert, a nonprofit corporate watchdog group.  “It’s time for Congress to wake up and take the childhood obesity problem seriously.”

“Three cheers for this new bill, which puts the interests of children ahead of the profits of the junk food industry,” Ruskin said. “If Congress cares about children, it will swiftly turn this bill into law.”

The federal definition of food of minimal nutritional value is extremely narrow. It includes only sodas, water ices, chewing gum, and candies made mostly of sugar. Still worse, the USDA can only stop the sale of these foods during meal times in cafeterias—not in vending machines elsewhere in schools, or in school stores.

In June 2005, the USDA rejected Commercial Alert’s petition to enforce the competitive foods rule, which prohibits public schools from selling food of minimal nutritional value during mealtimes in school cafeterias.

In 2003, Commercial Alert, backed by dozens of endorsing organizations and prominent scholars, started a campaign in support of the Childhood Obesity Prevention Agenda, to help stop the childhood obesity epidemic by banning the marketing, distribution and sale of junk food in schools, and improving the quality of food provided to schoolchildren.

Last month, in response to recent findings by scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and elsewhere that certain soft drinks may contain amounts of the carcinogen benzene above the U.S. legal limit for drinking water, Commercial Alert and public health advocates sent letters to all U.S. chief state school officers, asking them to stop the sale and marketing of these soft drinks in public schools, until they can be proven safe and free from benzene contamination.

Commercial Alert is a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Oregon. Our mission is to keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere, and to prevent it from exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family, community, environmental integrity and democracy. For more information, see our website at: http://www.commercialalert.org.

NEWS RELEASE
For More Information Contact: Gary Ruskin (202)588-7746
For Immediate Release: April 6th, 2006

New Bill on Food in Schools Deserves Swift Passage, Says Commercial Alert

Commercial Alert applauded new bi-partisan legislation in Congress to restrict the sale of junk food in public schools.  The Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act would expand the definition of food of minimal nutritional value, and empower the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to stop the sale of unhealthy foods everywhere in school not just in school cafeterias.

“Our children are suffering from an obesity epidemic, but federal laws governing the sale of food in schools are a junk food manufacturers dream,” said Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert, a nonprofit corporate watchdog group.  “It’s time for Congress to wake up and take the childhood obesity problem seriously.”

“Three cheers for this new bill, which puts the interests of children ahead of the profits of the junk food industry,” Ruskin said. “If Congress cares about children, it will swiftly turn this bill into law.”

The federal definition of food of minimal nutritional value is extremely narrow. It includes only sodas, water ices, chewing gum, and candies made mostly of sugar. Still worse, the USDA can only stop the sale of these foods during meal times in cafeterias—not in vending machines elsewhere in schools, or in school stores.

In June 2005, the USDA rejected Commercial Alert’s petition to enforce the competitive foods rule, which prohibits public schools from selling food of minimal nutritional value during mealtimes in school cafeterias.

In 2003, Commercial Alert, backed by dozens of endorsing organizations and prominent scholars, started a campaign in support of the Childhood Obesity Prevention Agenda, to help stop the childhood obesity epidemic by banning the marketing, distribution and sale of junk food in schools, and improving the quality of food provided to schoolchildren.

Last month, in response to recent findings by scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and elsewhere that certain soft drinks may contain amounts of the carcinogen benzene above the U.S. legal limit for drinking water, Commercial Alert and public health advocates sent letters to all U.S. chief state school officers, asking them to stop the sale and marketing of these soft drinks in public schools, until they can be proven safe and free from benzene contamination.

Commercial Alert is a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Oregon. Our mission is to keep the commercial culture within its proper sphere, and to prevent it from exploiting children and subverting the higher values of family, community, environmental integrity and democracy. For more information, see our website at: http://www.commercialalert.org.