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SELECT COMMITTEE ON NUTRITION AND HUMAN NEEDS
GEORGE MCGOVERN, South Dakota, Chairman HERMAN E. TALMADGE, Georgia
CHARLES H. PERCY, Illinois PHILIP A. HART, Michigan
MARLOW W. COOK, Kentucky WALTER F. MONDALE, Minnesota
ROBERT DOLE, Kansas EDWARD M. KENNEDY, Massachusetts
HENRY BELLMON, Oklahoma GAYLORD NELSON, Wisconsin
RICHARD S. SCHWEIKER, Pennsylvania ALAN CRANSTON, California
ROBERT TAFT, JR., Ohio HUBERT H. HUMPHREY, Minnesota
KENNETH SCHLOSSBERG, Staff Director
FEDERAL FOOD PROGRAMS:
Program, April 17, 1973
Statement of Senator Humphrey 987
WITNESSES IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER
Hekman, Edward J., administrator, Food and Nutrition Service, USDA
Springfield, James R., deputy administrator for programs
Boling, William G., associate director, Child Nutrition Service 949
Select Committee On
February 27, 1974
OVERSIGHT HEARINGS ON NATIONAL SCHOOL LUNCH
Senator George McGovern (D.-S. Dak.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, announced today that he will chair a hearing of the committee on Tuesday, March 5. The hearing will deal with the loss of over 400,000 middle-income children from the School Lunch Program this year and the need for the continuation of donated commodities to schools in the program.
Legislative history and common sense dictate that nutritious school lunches be provided for all of America-s children, rich or poor, black or white, urban or rural. Middle-income parents support this valuable program, and their children must not be excluded. I am very disturbed by this trend towards fewer paying children, and hope to learn from this hearing how to best remedy the situation.
According to the Chairman, the commodity issue is also of great importance to the School Lunch Program, and failure to deal intelligently with the problem now could force school lunch prices up in many areas—once again forcing middle-income children out of the program. His bill, S. 2871, guarantees schools.future commodity levels equal to this year's.
Until we can develop an adequate formula for replacing commodities to the schools, the only responsible position to take is continuation of commodities. I believe that overburdened local school districts need our support, and so do the children.
The hearing will take place in room 4200 of the Dirksen Office Building beginning at 10 a.m., Tuesday, March 5, 1974.
FEDERAL FOOD PROGRAMS
TUESDAY, MARCH 5, 1974
Washington, D.C. The Select Committee met at 10 a.m., pursuant to call, in room 4200 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building; the Honorable George McGovern, chairman of the committee, presiding.
Present: Senators McGovern, Humphrey, Percy, and Bellmon. Staff members: Kenneth Schlossberg, staff director; Alan J. Stone, counsel; Marshall L. Matz, assistant counsel; Vernon M. Goetcheus, chief, minority staff; Lucy H. Knight, minority professional staff. Senator Mcgovern. The hearing will come to order. We certainly welcome all of our guests this morning. We are delighted that you are here, as we believe this is an important inquiry slated for today.
I will open with my statement before we call the first witness.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR McGOVERN, CHAIRMAN
Senator Mcgovern. We are here to continue our investigation into an old and valued program, the National School Lunch Program. This, I have long felt, is one of the most valuable programs operating in the Nation today.
For many years I have felt that, dollar for dollar, we probably would get as much in the way of human benefits from the money we invest in our School Lunch Program as we do from any public program in the Nation. It is with this sense of past pride and achievement in the program that we also combine an ever-growing sense of concern that this program continue. That it continue to be adequately funded. This, of course, is the purpose of the committee's hearing today.
The unfortunate aspect of this whole matter is that during the past year we have had to watch a steady decline in the number of participating students in the School Lunch Program—especially those who are participating on a paying basis, from the middle-income families. We can't afford to stand by and watch the children, from these families that support the program, lose out in this effort to provide a nutritious low-priced meal in our schools.
Time and time again, we have seen and heard from expert witnesses throughout the country about the educational and health benefits of this program. We really should not need to make that case again.
It is a sad fact that—between October 1972 and October 1973— we lost approximately half a million children from the ranks of those paying for school lunches. In addition, we have increased by approximately 200,000 the number of those children receiving free- or reducedpriced meals.
Feed All Schoolchildren Nutritious Lunch
In my opinion, we can't allow this trend to continue. The enabling legislation of the first School Lunch Act clearly states that it is the intention of the Congress that we establish a program to feed all— and I emphasize all—America's schoolchildren hearty, nutritious school lunches.
I cannot emphasize enough the personal distress I feel at the loss of a half million participating children. We have come such a long way in the progress of this effort that it seems tragic to allow a major setback to take place now.
For middle-income families, food prices have gone up 21 to 22 percent in the last year. They have seen their fuel and energy costs go up at least that much. They have seen their earning power and their buying power fail to keep up in this increasing race of inflation. They have had to wonder, I am sure, where it is all going to end.
It seems the least we can do in the Congress is to make an all-out effort to assure that low-cost, nutritious meals are served at the schools our children attend. And there is no way to do that more efficiently than to safeguard and strengthen our present program.
I hope, today, the witnesses will address themselves in part to the issue of the loss of participating students in the School Lunch Program. I hope we can come up with some reasonable solutions, so that children from these middle-income homes will soon join the program in increasing numbers instead of dropping out.
I am curious to learn from the USD A officials whether or not they can tell us how many of the half million children—no longer in the program—are among the 200,000 students who are eligible for freeor reduced-price meals.
In other words: Are we pricing students out of the paying lunch program and forcing them into the free- or reduced-price category?
If that is the case, by increasing the demand for free meals and decreasing the number of paid meals, we are going to make it increasingly more difficult for States to meet the 3-to-l State-to-Federal matching requirements.
I think it is not necessary to go into the early history of the passage of Public Law 93-150' and the effort that we made, here in the Congress, to strengthen the nutrition programs. If those efforts had not succeeded, we certainly would have been in much worse condition than we are.
In addition, there is another point that I want to make: That is the issue of the use of donated commodities in the School Lunch Program. As most of the people in this room are aware, the authority to purchase surplus commodities expires at the end of this fiscal year— on June 30, 1974. After consideration of all aspects of the commodity situation, I introduced a bill several weeks ago to ensure that
'See Appendix, p. 1025.