November 4th, 2010
04:36 PM ET

U.S. to update low-income nutrition program

A federally funded food program that provides meals to more than 3.3 million adults and children from low-income families mainly through after-school programs, emergency shelters and child and adult day care centers, may soon undergo major revisions for the first time in more than two decades.

 At the request of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Institute of Medicine reviewed the 42-year old Child and Adult Care Food Program and issued a series of recommendations to help "bring the meal requirements into alignment with the best available dietary guidance" and be more consistent with other programs of the Food and Nutrition Service.

Some of the key changes include recommendations that CACFP providers:

– use only breast milk or formula for infants under 6 months
– refrain from giving fruit juice of any type for children younger than 1 year old
– limit foods high in solid fats and added sugars
– separate fruits and vegetables into separate categories, and increase the number of servings of each per week.

The IOM and USDA say the goal is to provide healthier and more nutrient rich foods to CACFP participants, particularly in view of the high prevalence of obesity in the United States. According the CDC, nearly 17 percent of U.S. children between the ages of  2 and 19 are obese, and a recent JAMA study found the prevalence of obesity was particularly high among low-income, preschool-aged children.

In a statement, Kevin Concannon, USDA under secretary for the Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services division says he wants to make sure “programs meet the highest nutrition standards, in ways that our program partners can implement and that our children can enjoy."

The IOM revisions follow the MyPyramid model already embraced by similar federal food programs including the supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children and the National School Lunch Program, both of which received similar updates in the past few years.

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Rob

    These are the types of policy changes that can really help people. However, just providing different foods at school or shelters isn't enough. These people are going to need to feed themselves outside of the controlled environment in which these healthy meals are provided. Wouldn't it make sense to try and educate the recipients of these programs as to why they are getting certain foods and how it is actively helping them better their health? It might be something as simple as a placemat or a poster on the wall in the seating or food line area. When people begin to understand why things are changing and how they can work with the changes to benefit themselves, some might begin to more consistently make better dietary choices. Better health is worth the investment for both the individual and society. Rational, effective nutrition for fat loss and long-term health: http://www.NutritionPerfected.com/np-blog.html

    November 5, 2010 at 09:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. amom

    Why is it no one realizes that its cheaper to by a box of cake mix than a bag of apples, most low income families by what they can stretch the longest for less, how about making healthy food CHEAPER. oh wait that would make sense!!!!!!!!!!!!! it really does cost twice as much to feed your kids healthy and most famlies just can not afford it.

    November 7, 2010 at 02:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Alison

    being poor shouldn't have to be about shoving the most calories at the cheapest price in your mouth. i'm poor, too, a minimum wage worker, and i don't consider cake "food". it's a dessert. "food" is what's needed to keep me alive, and as a woman still battling obesity i am always surprised at how little food i really need to eat-and how easy it can be to eat healthier for less than it is to eat junk food. yep-i'm struggling, but thanks to choices like apples over cake-not preaching btw-because cake means i have to buy frosting, eggs&oil too-i'm losing pounds slowly, and the apples have about 10 in a bag. they're about 2 dollars more, but i'm not using up my staples like eggs on a 9 by 13 cake gone in maybe 8 slices. i'll skip the soda and chip isle and stack up on yogurt and cottage cheese etc. but i take the bus tn go shopping, and yes-a box of cake mix sure is a lot easier to drag 5 blocks than fresh produce. nutritionists never seem to take into account things like the transportation issues for those of us with less economic means at our disposal.

    November 7, 2010 at 03:35 | Report abuse | Reply
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