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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 
                    LUNCH ACT.

    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 
following:
    ``(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 
                subparagraph (C).
          ``(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 
this report.

                                Purpose

    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.

                            Committee Action

    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 
Dietary Guidelines.
    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.

                            Committee Views

    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 
Department.
    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 
before them.
    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.

                                Summary

    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 
Breakfast Programs.

                           Section-by-Section

          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.

                           Committee Estimate

    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 
infra.

     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 
Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               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 
current law.
    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 
Niciole.
            Sincerely,
                                         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, 
        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 
                subparagraph (C).
          (ii) Nutrient analysis.--The Secretary may not 
        require a school to conduct or use a nutrient analysis 
        to meet the requirements of this paragraph.
          * * * * * * *