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104th Congress Report
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
2d Session 104-561
HEALTHY MEALS FOR CHILDREN ACT
May 7, 1996.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the
State of the Union and ordered to be printed
Mr. Goodling, from the Committee on Economic and Educational
Opportunities, submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 2066]
[Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]
The Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities, to
whom was referred the bill (H.R. 2066) to amend the National
School Lunch Act to provide greater flexibility to schools to
meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans under the school
lunch and school breakfast programs, having considered the
same, report favorably thereon with an amendment and recommend
that the bill as amended do pass.
The amendment is as follows:
Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu
thereof the following:
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Healthy Meals for Children Act''.
SEC. 2. INCREASED FLEXIBILITY FOR SCHOOLS TO MEET THE DIETARY
GUIDELINES FOR AMERICANS UNDER THE NATIONAL SCHOOL
Section 9(f)(2) of the National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C.
1758(f)(2)) is amended by striking subparagraph (D) and inserting the
``(D) Use of any reasonable approach.--
``(i) In general.--A school may use any reasonable approach
to meet the requirements of this paragraph, including--
``(I) using the school nutrition meal pattern in
effect for the 1994-1995 school year; and
``(II) using any of the approaches described in
``(ii) Nutrient analysis.--The Secretary may not require a
school to conduct or use a nutrient analysis to meet the
requirements of this paragraph.''.
Explanation of Amendment
The Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute is explained in
The purpose of this legislation is to amend the National
School Lunch Act to provide more flexibility to local schools
in demonstrating that they have met the Dietary Guideline
requirements of the National School Lunch Act.
The Full Committee discharged the Subcommittee on Early
Childhood, Youth and Families from further consideration of the
bill H.R. 2066 by voice vote. The Full Committee reported H.R.
2066 on May 1, 1996 by voice vote.
Background and Need for Legislation
The Healthy Meals for Healthy Americans Act of 1994 (P.L.
103-448) addressed concerns raised by the 1993 School Nutrition
Dietary Assessment (SNDA) study concerning levels of fat,
sodium and carbohydrates in meals served under the School Lunch
Program. This study found that many of these meals were
dramatically inconsistent with the goals of the Dietary
Guidelines for Americans. In response, the new law required
school meals conform to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The Act also:
(1) Required that, not later than the first day of
the 1996-1997 school year, schools in the school lunch
and breakfast programs serve meals that are consistent
with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans;
(2) Permitted states to grant schools time-limited
waivers from the requirements to meet the Guidelines;
(3) Permitted schools to use nutrient standard menu
planning (NuMenus), assisted nutrient standard menu
planning (Assisted NuMenus), or food-based menu systems
to meet the Guidelines; and
(4) Barred the Secretary of Agriculture from
requiring that schools using food-based systems conduct
or use nutrient analysis.
At the time this law was enacted, the Committee's intent
was that schools be permitted to use the food-based menu system
in place prior to enactment of 103-448 as long as they met the
Final regulations establishing the new Guidelines-based
nutrition criteria and the menu-planning requirements for
implementing them were issued June 13, 1995. Unfortunately,
they did not provide schools with the menu-planning flexibility
that Congress sought in the 1994 amendments. The regulations
included a significantly revised version of the existing food-
based meal pattern that the Agriculture Department judged to be
consistent with the Guidelines.
Many schools believed that this new version was
unnecessarily prescriptive and could add considerably to the
cost of meals under the School Lunch Programs. Schools which
desired to comply with the Guidelines by using another
nutritionally sound approach, such as their existing food-based
menu system or their own meal pattern revisions were required
to get a waiver from the state or, if they used the Assisted
NuMenus option, provide documentation that supported the claim
that their meal pattern met the Guidelines.
Since the issuance of these regulations and the
introduction of H.R. 2066 on July 19, 1995, the Department has
made efforts to ease the burden of the new regulations (e.g.
delaying imposition of ``weighting'' requirements in nutrient
analyses). However, the Committee believes that the existing
rules (including the Secretary's guidance) provide too little
room for schools to exercise their good judgment as to how to
meet the nutrition standards in a cost-effective manner.
H.R. 2066 was introduced in an effort to remedy concerns
raised by the school food service community and provide
additional flexibility to schools in their efforts to plan
menus which meet children's preferences.
The Healthy Meals for Children Act will continue the
federal commitment that school meals meet the standards of the
Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It will also lift unnecessary
regulatory requirements on how schools implement the
guidelines. It will not, however, in any way, negate the
requirement that schools demonstrate that they are in
compliance with this provision of the law.
The Committee agrees with the nutritional goals of the
Guidelines, and that schools should serve healthy meals. But
schools making good faith efforts to improve their meal
services should not be limited to the meal planning choices
available under current federal rules--particularly when it
results in meals that children chose not to eat.
The Committee was disappointed that the regulations issued
by the Department of Agriculture in June of 1995 did not meet
Congressional intent with respect to providing schools with
flexibility in how they demonstrated they were in compliance
with the Dietary Guidelines. Big brother was at work once again
in micromanaging how schools went about this task.
Schools throughout the nation contacted the Committee to
express concern about the implementation of these final
regulations. Of special concern were changes to the food-based
menu system which had the potential of adding from 10 cents to
17 cents to the cost of school meals. The reason for the
increased cost was a change in the food-based menu system which
required schools to add additional servings of grains, bread
and fruits and vegetables. Of particular concern was the fact
that even those schools currently meeting the dietary
guidelines under the previous food-based menu plan would have
to enact such changes. The alternative, would be to use the
nutrient standard menu plan, which would require schools to
make a significant investment in computer hardware and require
extensive training and technical assistance to implement the
new software and procedures associated with this plan. Schools
were apprehensive about the expenditures necessary to carry out
this option and expressed to the Committee their desire to use
the food-based menu system used prior to the enactment of the
Healthy Meals for Healthy Americans Act. At no time did schools
oppose the requirement that they meet the Dietary Guidelines.
It is also not the intention of the Committee to eliminate
the requirement that school meals meet the Dietary Guidelines
for Americans. It is however, our intent to permit schools to
use any ``reasonable approach'' to meet the Dietary Guidelines,
including those contained in the regulations issued by the
The Committee is concerned, however, that schools be given
the flexibility to serve meals children will eat. No matter how
healthy the meal, if children do not like what they are
offered, they will not eat. School food service personnel are
in the best position to determine the preferences of the
children they serve. We need to allow these individuals the
flexibility to serve meals students will eat.
At the present time only 50 percent of low income students
participate in the school lunch program and 46 percent of
middle and upper income children participate. If one of the
primary goals of school meal programs is to insure children
have the nutrition they need to do well in school, then we need
to do what we can to insure they will eat the meals placed
As long as schools are serving healthy, nutritious meals,
meeting a specific regulatory approach should be controlling
for how individual schools demonstrate that they are meeting
dietary guidelines. The bottom line is that schools know best
what children will eat. We need to free their hands to do the
job that they know how to do best. H.R. 2066 takes a positive
step in this direction.
H.R. 2066 would provide local schools with flexibility in
demonstrating that they have met the Dietary Guidelines for
Americans for meals served under the National School Lunch and
Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to H.R. 2066
Sec. 1.--Short title: States the short title of the bill.
Sec. 2.--Increased Flexibility for Schools to Meet the
Dietary Guidelines for Americans Under the National School
Lunch Act. Strikes section 9(f)(2) of the National School Lunch
Act and inserts language allowing schools to use any reasonable
approach to meeting the dietary guidelines and includes the use
of meal patterns in effect for the 1994-1995 school year.
Additionally, schools may use other approaches stated under
current law. This section also states that the Secretary of
Agriculture may not require a school to conduct or use a
nutrient analysis to meet the dietary guidelines.
Oversight Findings of the Committee
In compliance with clause 2(l)(3)(A) of rule XI of the
Rules of the House of Representatives and clause 2(b)(1) of
rule X of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the
Committee's oversight findings and recommendations are
reflected in the body of this report.
Inflationary Impact Statement
In compliance with clause 2(l)(4) of rule XI of the Rules
of the House of Representatives, the Committee estimates that
the enactment into law of H.R. 2066 will have no significant
inflationary impact on prices and costs in the operation of the
national economy. It is the judgment of the Committee that the
inflationary impact of this legislation as a component of the
federal budget is negligible.
Government Reform and Oversight
With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(D) of
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the
Committee has received no report of oversight findings and
recommendations form the Committee on Government Reform and
Oversight on the subject of H.R. 2066.
Clause 7 of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of
Representatives requires an estimate and a comparison by the
Committee of the costs which would be incurred in carrying out
H.R. 2066. However, clause 7(d) of that rule provides that this
requirement does not apply when the Committee has included in
its report a timely submitted cost estimate of the bill
prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office
under section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.
Application of Law to Legislative Branch
Section 102(b)(3) of Public Law 104-1 requires a
description of the application of this bill to the legislative
branch. This bill provide more flexibility to local schools in
demonstrating that they have met the Dietary Guideline
requirements of the National School Lunch Act. The bill does
not prohibit legislative branch employees from otherwise being
eligible for services under these programs.
Unfunded Mandate Statement
Section 423 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment
Control Act requires a statement of whether the provisions of
the reported bill include unfunded mandates; the bill provides
funds for programs authorized under this bill at the local
level and as such does not contain any unfunded mandates. The
Committee also received a letter regarding unfunded mandates
from the Director of the Congressional Budget Office. See
Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate
With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(B) of
rule XI of the House of Representatives and section 308(a) of
the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and with respect to
requirements of clause 2(l)(3)(C) of rule XI of the House of
Representatives and section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act
of 1974, the Committee has received the following cost estimate
for H.R. 2066 from the Director of the Congressional Budget
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, May 6, 1996.
Hon. William F. Goodling,
Chairman, Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
has reviewed H.R. 2066, a bill to amend the National School
Lunch Act to provide greater flexibility to schools to meet the
Dietary Guidelines for Americans under the school lunch and
school breakfast programs. The bill was ordered reported by the
Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities on May 1,
1996. The Department of Agriculture issued regulations in June
1995 to specify the methods by which schools and states would
be in compliance with the recommendations of the Dietary
Guidelines for Americans. H.R. 2066 would override these
regulations and stipulate that schools may use any reasonable
approach to meet the requirement that they serve meals that are
consistent with the Dietary Guidelines.
CBO estimates that enactment of H.R. 2066 would have no
significant effect on the federal budget. CBO assumes that the
Secretary of Agriculture would issue new regulations outlining
the revised methods for schools to be in compliance with the
Guidelines and that about the same number of meals would be
eligible for federal reimbursement under the bill as under
H.R. 2066 contains no intergovernmental or private sector
mandates as defined in P.O. 104-4 and would impose no direct
costs on state, local, or tribal governments. The provisions of
the bill would provide school districts with flexibility in
meeting dietary guidelines. This could result in marginally
lower administrative and food costs to those school districts
taking advantage of this flexibility.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. the CBO federal cost analyst is
Dorothy Rosenbaum, the state and local cost analyst is Marc
June E. O'Neill, Director.
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported
In compliance with clause 3 of rule XIII of the Rules of
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new
matter is printed in italics, existing law in which no change
is proposed is shown in roman):
SECTION 9 OF THE NATIONAL SCHOOL LUNCH ACT
NUTRITIONAL AND OTHER PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS
Sec. 9. (a) * * *
* * * * * * *
(f)(1) * * *
(2)(A) * * *
* * * * * * *
[(D) Schools may use any of the approaches described in
subparagraph (C) to meet the requirements of this paragraph. In
the case of schools that elect to use food-based menu systems
to meet the requirements of this paragraph, the Secretary may
not require the schools to conduct or use nutrient analysis.]
(D) Use of any reasonable approach.--
(i) In general.--A school may use any reasonable
approach to meet the requirements of this paragraph,
(I) using the school nutrition meal pattern
in effect for the 1994-1995 school year; and
(II) using any of the approaches described in
(ii) Nutrient analysis.--The Secretary may not
require a school to conduct or use a nutrient analysis
to meet the requirements of this paragraph.
* * * * * * *