Congressman Tim Ryan Introduces School Nutrition Coordinator Legislation

Jun 20, 2017 Issues: Health and Wellness

Washington, DC – Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH), was joined by Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Jim McGovern (D-MA) today to introduce the Nutrition Coordinators for Local Healthy Youth Act. This bill would allow qualified professionals to lead nutrition education and promotion efforts by giving districts the ability to appoint a nutrition coordinator to oversee their Team Nutrition (TN) and local wellness programs. These positions will be funded through grants given out by the US Department of Agriculture by amending the Child Nutrition Act. These programs include using innovative lunchroom strategies such as family style eating to encourage healthy decision making, developing school meal patterns that meet USDA nutrition requirements, delivering hands-on nutrition education lessons that are aligned across grade levels, and providing schools and child care providers the technical assistance they need to develop health centered environments.

“There’s no greater investment we can make than an investment in our children’s education, but we must make sure that we’re getting the most out of it. If our kids aren’t healthy and lack the basic nutrition necessary to be effective learners, no amount of money will result in success. If meaningful nutrition education is paired with access to healthy foods, we will maximize our country’s investments and have a shot to develop a generation of healthy eaters and successful learners,” said Congressman Ryan. “When 20 percent of school aged children are obese and our country is losing over $250 billion annually in diabetes related costs, it is imperative that we make improving student health and wellness a top education priority.”

“Healthy school meals are just as essential as textbooks to help children learn and succeed. And for some students, school meals are the only healthy meals they eat all day,” Congressman Jim McGovern (D-MA) said. “This bill will build on the success of school meals by increasing nutrition education and encouraging students to develop the healthy eating habits that will help them succeed in school and for years to come. I am proud to join this bill with Congressman Tim Ryan and urge all of our colleagues to join us in investing in the health of our students.”

“This bill is an opportunity for school districts to hire a nutrition coordinator who will build on the work of wellness committees and school nutrition directors to improve healthy school environments. As a school nutrition director myself, I know that employing a school nutrition coordinator would help many districts create more opportunities for children to learn about the healthy food that is being served in cafeterias and to promote physical activity during and outside of school. This bill supports the development of children’s lifelong healthy behaviors that will improve educational attainment and decrease diet-related chronic disease,” said President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Donna S. Martin, EdS, RDN, LD, SNS, FAND.

"FoodCorps service members are in schools helping students get excited about healthy food and where it comes from.  We've seen that the presence of dedicated staff in a school can have a profound impact on healthy eating; students who get more of our hands-on learning like cooking and gardening lessons eat triple the amounts of fruits and vegetables at meal time. This legislation would help more schools have that hands-on learning that directly impacts how much healthy food kids will eat," said Kumar Chandran, Policy Director, FoodCorps.

"The National Farm to School Network welcomes Representative Ryan's introduction of the Nutrition Coordinators for Local Healthy Youth Act, which will establish Nutrition Educators in school districts across the country. Nutrition education is one of the three core elements of farm to school, and a proven approach to ensuring that children learn about where their food comes from and build lifelong healthy eating habits. This bill expands school capacity to successfully integrate experiential nutrition education into the curriculum. We look forward to working with these Nutrition Educators to grow a generation of healthy and informed eaters," said Maximilian Merrill, Esq., Policy Director, National Farm to School Network. 

This legislation is endorsed by: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Vetri Community Partnerships, Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, Teachers College Columbia University, Food Corps, American Heart Association, SHAPE America, The Food Trust, and the Farm to School Network.