| Tonight I discovered the fun of Thomas.gov, the Library of Congress website. Want to know what our friends in Washington are up to? Thomas will tell you. In my case, I was searching for something that I couldn't find, but I ended up stumbling upon a bunch of really great bills that Tom Harkin has proposed this year. They are:
S.771: A bill to amend the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 to improve the nutrition and health of schoolchildren by updating the definition of "food of minimal nutritional value" to conform to current nutrition science and to protect the Federal investment in the national school lunch and breakfast programs.
If I've got the facts right, you can't serve "foods of minimal nutritional value" in schools, but the way they define "foods of minimal nutritional value" allows you to basically serve whatever you want. Cheetos? Mountain Dew? No problem. Under government definitions, those aren't foods of minimal nutritional value (so what is? tree bark?). Good on Harkin for proposing this! Unfortunately, after gaining 32 co-sponsors, it went to the Ag committee and died there.
|More of Harkin's food-related bills from the last year:
S.1412 and S.1460: A bill to amend the Farm Security and Rural Development Act of 2002 to support beginning farmers and ranchers, and for other purposes.
The first one has 3 co-sponsors. He re-proposed it and got 10 co-sponsors the second time, but both times it died in committee. Thomas isn't working very well - I'd love to be able to read what this bill (and the others) is about but at least from the brief description it looks good. Over in the House, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin proposed a similar bill, HR 2348, which also died in committee.
S.1529: A bill to amend the Food Stamp Act of 1977 to end benefit erosion, support working families with child care expenses, encourage retirement and education savings, and for other purposes.
Nice one, Senator Harkin. This time he got 15 co-sponsors but still the bill went nowhere.
S.2784: A bill to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to extend the food labeling requirements of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990 to enable customers to make informed choices about the nutritional content of standard menu items in large chain restaurants.
I know this is a tough one to pass - California just finally managed to pass a menu labeling bill - but I'm thrilled that he's at least coming out in support of it. This one went to the HELP committee and died there. I'm sure someone influential on HELP like Senator Dodd could be a proponent of this in the future, if Harkin would introduce it in the next session of Congress. Over on the House side, Rosa DeLauro proposed this same bill and got 14 co-sponsors.
S.3597: A bill to provide that funds allocated for community food projects for fiscal year 2008 shall remain available until September 30, 2009.
This one became law. I think this was fixing the glitch in the farm bill that messed up the CFP (Community Food Projects) program. But it should be noted that Harkin's ag committee was wonderful on the CFP issue overall, allocating $10 million in mandatory funding (double the amount given in the previous farm bill) to the program whereas the House allocated $0. In the end, the averaged the 2 numbers to $5 million, which meant that the funding stayed the same.