Casey Applauds Reprieve of Phila. School Meals Program

WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee today spoke with U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding the Philadelphia universal feeding pilot program.  Following the call, Senator Casey sent the attached letter to Secretary Vilsack on their plans to work together to develop a national plan based on the Philadelphia program.

“We are both committed to ensuring that children in the Philadelphia schools and schools nationwide receive healthy meals,” wrote Senator Casey.  “I think that this common goal has enabled us to reach an agreement that accommodates all interested parties while allowing us to work together to develop policy recommendations for the upcoming Child Nutrition bill.  While we work on this important national policy initiative, we should allow Philadelphia to continue its program in order to prevent an interruption in meal service to school children and eliminate excessive costs to the school district.”
 
Senator Casey will introduce legislation next week to model a national program after Philadelphia’s innovative and successful program to offer schools meals in a way that is more cost-effective and less bureaucratic.  As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Casey will help to write the upcoming Child Nutrition Act reauthorization.


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June 5, 2009

The Honorable Tom Vilsack
Secretary
United States Department of Agriculture
Jamie L. Whitten Federal Building
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Room 200-A
Washington, DC 20250

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

Thank you for our phone conversation today following up on your May 22nd letter regarding the Philadelphia universal feeding pilot program.  I appreciated the opportunity to further discuss both the Philadelphia pilot and the larger Child Nutrition Act reauthorization.

We are both committed to ensuring that children in the Philadelphia schools and schools nationwide receive healthy meals.  I think that this common goal has enabled us to reach an agreement that accommodates all interested parties while allowing us to work together to develop policy recommendations for the upcoming Child Nutrition bill.

As I mentioned during our call, I have written legislation that establishes a national paperless school meals application system based on data collection.  I would like to work collaboratively with you and your staff to improve this bill and develop a national program that will modernize the school meal application process, get meals to kids who would otherwise go hungry, and save school districts money in the long term.  While we work on this important national policy initiative, we should allow Philadelphia to continue its program in order to prevent an interruption in meal service to school children and eliminate excessive costs to the school district.

With reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act scheduled in just a few months, I can think of no better time to build on the best aspects of the Philadelphia program to create a national program.  I look forward to our continued work to improve school meals and end hunger in America by 2015.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator

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