Public Policy for Pediatric Nutrition Legislation

Legislation

Legislation is constantly changing! Here, we give you the general information on public policy related to childhood nutrition. For the most current information, go to the Academy’s legislation webpage:  

1. Farm Bill

The Farm Bill is legislation that provides guidance and authorizes funding for many federal agriculture and food policies, including SNAP - formerly known as Food Stamps, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and Agricultural Research. Every five years, Congress renews the Farm Bill through the reauthorization process.


In a nutshell, these programs do the following:

SNAP

  • Helps protect people from going hungry, nearly half of which are children.
  • Currently offers an average monthly benefit to eligible individuals of $133.08, or less than $1.40 per person, per meal.

SNAP-Ed

  • Provides nutrition education materials and programs with the goal of increasing the likelihood that people eligible for SNAP will make healthy food choices.
  • Nearly 75 percent of SNAP-Ed participants are children under age 18 years.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program

  • Provides a fresh fruit or vegetable snack for low-income children during the school day.
  • Creates healthier school environments by providing healthier food choices.
  • Expands the variety of fruits and vegetables children experience in school through the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program.
  • Increases children's fruit and vegetable consumption.

Agricultural Research

  • Conducts Specialty Crop Research, which includes fruits and vegetables.
  • Oversees Organic Agricultural Research and Extension Initiative.
  • Promotes Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development.
  • Establishes the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research.
For in-depth information on the Farm Bill, go to the Academy’s legislation brief (http://www.eatright.org/Members/legislation/), and for latest information, reference the weekly publication Eat Right Weekly.
 

2. Obesity

Treat and Reduce Obesity Act 2013

The bill aims to effectively treat and reduce obesity in older Americans by increasing Medicare beneficiaries’ access to qualified practitioners.  Medicare coverage is often used at the precedence for other coverage.
  • Provides coverage of intensive behavioral therapy for obesity for Medicare participants outside of the primary care setting.
  • Provides for the coordination of programs to prevent and treat obesity, and for other purposes.
  • Expands healthcare providers able to furnish intensive behavioral therapy to include registered dietitians and other qualified providers.
  • Authorizes coverage for FDA-approved weight loss medications that complement IBT.
Our DPG needs to be active in response to adult-based obesity legislation to increase the likelihood this coverage can be available for children in the future.

For in-depth information on the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act, go to the Academy’s website: http://www.eatright.org/Members/congressionalmaterials/ and for latest information reference the weekly publication Eat Right Weekly
 

3. Medical Foods

Medical Foods Equity Act 2013

  • Requires coverage of medically necessary foods for children and adults with inborn errors of metabolism by all federal health programs (Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicaid, Medicare, Tricare, & Federal Employee Health Benefit Plans).
  • Establishes coverage of medical foods, which are not addressed by the Affordable Care Act.
  • Bill based on recommendations from the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children.
 
PNPG needs to be active in supporting this medical food legislation so that optimal, affordable care can be provided to patients with inborn errors of metabolism, whose treatment is largely based on costly, nutrition-centered interventions.
 
For more information, visit the National PKU Alliance website (www.npkua.org). 
 

4. School Nutrition

School nutrition legislation promotes access to food for those children at risk for hunger, provides nutrition education, and procures local fresh fruits and vegetables. As school nutrition may be the only source of nutritious meals for low-income children, we must be ready to support legislation that ensures each child is nourished to learn.
 
The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) changed the entire school food environment. Specifically, changing the standards for the National School Lunch Program and the National School Breakfast Program and the requirements related to all snacks and beverages sold during the school day. RDNs in school nutrition continue to be leaders in the implementation of this historic Act. A recent JAND article outlines the changes to nutrition standards for snacks and beverages in schools http://www.andjrnl.org/article/S2212-2672(13)01130-1/fulltext.
 
Also, the Kids Eat Right website has resources for the implementation of the HHFKA: http://www.eatright.org/kids/.
 
Stay on the lookout for other school nutrition legislation by checking on the Academy’s Public Policy page: (http://www.eatright.org/Members/legislation/).
 

5. Drug and Nutrient Shortages

Shortages in intravenous nutrients are affecting care for patients who receive parenteral nutrition. These shortages have become an issue of critical concern for our members who work in clinical settings. In 2012, Congress passed a bill that would require drug companies to alert the FDA of an expected shortage earlier than was previously required, but the legislation did not address the root of the shortage problem (i.e. what causes the shortages in the first place and how future shortages can be prevented). The Academy is reaching out to members and DPGs to determine the scope and severity of these shortages, and to collect stories that illustrate the consequences that nutrient shortages may have on patient care and outcomes. If you know of anyone in your state whose facility has experienced or is experiencing a nutrient shortage, please reach out to PIA staff (wbrown@eatright.org) so that we can connect with them.
 

6. Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

WIC provides supplemental foods, as well as dietary counseling for women and their children from conception to the age of 5. The WIC food package was revamped and includes more whole grains and low fat dairy and aligns more closely with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These changes have shown improvements in the diets of women and children served by this program.
 
The WIC program is authorized through the Child Nutrition Reauthorization process, the most recent being the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, but is subject to annual appropriations. Annual appropriations mean annual changes in funding.