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Boswell & Vilsack Discuss Child Nutrition in First 2012 Farm Bill Hearing
Iowa Ag Connection - 04/22/2010

Wednesday, Congressman Leonard Boswell posed questions to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on the child nutrition programs under current U.S. agriculture policy during the Agriculture Committee's first hearing on the 2012 farm bill.

"Secretary Vilsack and the U.S. military released an alarming report yesterday about the health and obesity rate of our young adults ages 18-24 and their physical preparedness to defend our nation should the need arise," said Boswell, a 20-year veteran. "This is just one more reason in a long list of why we must address the growing number of children and adults who are leading unhealthy lives. I was pleased that Secretary Vilsack took the time to discuss this important issue with me during today's hearing as I prepare to chair the field hearings for the 2012 farm bill in the coming months."

During the hearing, Boswell urged Vilsack and the USDA to continue to support programs that provide funding to schools for nutritious and local foods. He asked Vilsack to also expand on his comments that childhood obesity is directly linked to military readiness.

Boswell also asked the Secretary to discuss the utilization and success of farmer's market programs that participate in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to use Electronic Benefit Transit (EBT) debit cards at local markets. Vilsack reported that use of the farmer's market cards has increased -- translating to more families on federal assistance providing fresh, local food to their children.

ducation is an important method to improving childhood nutrition and Boswell discussed the need to continue to offer grants for school gardens and other projects that connect kids to production.

"I agree with the Secretary that children today are not connected to cultivation and production and we need to foster that relationship," Boswell said. "Engaging children with planting and production, whether it's visiting a farm or tending a garden, will educate kids on where food comes from and make them more aware of what they put in their bodies."

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