WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) today announced that they plan to offer an amendment to the pending Senate farm bill to update decades-old nutrition standards in schools. The amendment, the result of months of negotiation with both the public health community and the food and beverage industry, seeks to establish appropriate school nutrition standards for foods and beverages offered in school vending machines, school stores and other venues outside of the school meal programs. The effort represents the broadest reform of foods sold in schools since the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) first implemented nutritional guidelines in the 1970’s. “A healthy population starts with healthy children – we must establish healthy habits and activities at an early age to prevent obesity and diet-related diseases later in life,” said Senator Murkowski. “This amendment is a step towards countering the youth obesity epidemic. The current standards for competitive foods sold in schools are out of date and do not include any of the current knowledge about the dangers of trans fats, high sodium, sugar and cholesterol and nutritional guidelines.” “Our amendment will improve the diets and nutrition of America’s school children by setting reasonable, common-sense standards for the foods and beverages that are sold in school vending machines and similar outlets,” said Senator Harkin, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. “School sales of candy, snacks and soft drinks have gone way up in recent years even as more and more kids are overweight or obese or have chronic diseases such as diabetes. This is a dangerous equation for the health of America’s kids – now and in their adult lives.” The amendment has broad support from both the food and beverage industry and health and education groups including: Coca-Cola American Association of School Administrators Nestle American Cancer Society Mars American Dental Association Frito-Lay American Diabetes Association General Mills American Dietetic Association McCain foods American Federal of Teachers Pepsi-Co American Medical Association Cadbury Schweppes American Public Health Association Dannon Center for Science in the Public Interest American Beverage Association Consumer Federation of America Kellogg Food Research and Action Center International Dairy Food Association National Association of School Nurses National Milk Producers Federation National Education Association National PTA “If parents, public health advocates and industry can come together with these senators on a national standard, the rest of the Senate should be able to do the same and pass this important amendment promptly,” said Susan K. Neely, president and chief executive officer of the American Beverage Association. “States have been strengthening their school nutrition policies. But after a decade of hard work, two-thirds of states have no or weak nutrition standards to limit junk-food and soda sales out of vending machines, school stores, and other venues outside of school meals,” said Margo G. Wootan, director of nutrition policy at CSPI. “We hope that Congress will listen to parents, health organizations, and the food and beverage industry and strengthen the national nutrition standards for school foods this year.” “Our knowledge about the importance of nutrition and of nutrition itself has changed greatly in the 30 years since the standards for school foods were established,” said Jennifer Weber of the American Dietetic Association. “This amendment can help transform the nutrition environment in schools so that it is consistent with our knowledge of children's nutrition and health. It is simply responsible to students' wellbeing to act now to review and update the nutrition standards for foods sold in schools across the nation.” Since the 109th Congress, Harkin and Murkowski have introduced The Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act, which is similar to the amendment announced today. ###