Serial No. 105-81


Printed for the use of the Committee on Education

and the Workforce


Table of Contents









Appendix A – Opening Remarks of the Honorable Mike Castle. *

Appendix B – Written Statement of Ed Cooney. *

Appendix C – Written Statement of Bob Robinson. *

Appendix D – Written Statement of Melinda Turner. *

Appendix E – Written Statement of Richard DeBurgh. *

Appendix F – Written Statement of Joyce Holmes Benjamin. *

Appendix G – Written Statement of Sharon Cox. *

Appendix H – Written Statement of John Murphy. *

Table of Indexes *

March 17, 1998 Hearing………………………………………………………………………………...155


Tuesday, March 10, 1998

House of Representatives

Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families,

Committee on Education and the Workforce,

Washington, D.C.





The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:30 a.m., in Room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Mike Castle [vice chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.

Present: Representatives Castle, Martinez, Miller, Kildee, Payne, Roemer, Scott, and Kucinich.

Also present: Representatives McKeon and Woolsey.

Staff present: Lynn Selmser, Professional Staff; Denzel McGuire, Professional Staff; Susan Firth, Budget Analyst; Andrea Weiss, Legislative Assistant; June Harris, Education Coordinator; and Alex Nock, Legislative Associate.


Mr. Castle. [presiding] The meeting of the subcommittee will come to order.

I'm not Frank Riggs even though Mr. Martinez is calling me ``Frank.'' I'm Mike Castle, and Mr. Riggs was unable to be here, so I'm managing this hearing, and indeed this particular issue.

In order to get the large volume of witnesses and every member up here an opportunity to ask questions, I will make a very brief opening statement. Mr. Martinez is welcome to make whatever opening statement he wishes to make, and then I will introduce the witnesses one at a time; and we'll try to go through all of you as rapidly as possible.

I would make one preliminary comment for future benefit--and it's not the end of the world--but the committee requirements, I think it's true of most of the committees, is that the testimony, the draft copy of the testimony, is supposed to be in by Friday, and then 100 copies supplied by 5 o'clock on Monday. There's a reason for this. It's to give us the opportunity to absorb what you are saying so that we can actually develop intelligent questions that are meaningful to the issues that we are dealing with. And the staff is the one that has to do all that because, obviously, the testimony can be that much [indicating]. And we didn't have all of the testimony here. I would hope for the future that we may be, as a committee, strongly trying to get that done, and secondly, that all witnesses would try to be responsive to that because it really does help this process.

I would just say that because people are not here, Members of the subcommittee are not here, does not mean that they're not interested. Their staffs are here. We're vitally interested in everything that you have to say today. I can assure you how interested we are.

As you may know, today's hearing will be the first of two hearings to examine our Nation's child nutrition programs. Welfare reform legislation enacted during the 104th Congress included important changes to child nutrition programs. These changes were in addition to changes enacted during the 103rd Congress. The purpose of today's hearing is to gather information on the impact of these changes and to determine what additional changes may be necessary to ensure the provision of quality nutrition services to our Nation's children.

Federal nutrition programs have always received strong bipartisan support. Although we may have had differences regarding the operation of such programs, we have always agreed they provide invaluable nutritional assistance to our Nation's children.

It is our intention to work in a bipartisan manner to develop an authorization bill, recognizing at the same time that there will be limitations to what we do based on budgetary restraints.

I look forward to receiving the testimony of our witnesses and to working together to improve our Nation's child nutrition programs.

Mr. Martinez?

See Appendix A for the opening statement of the Honorable Mike Castle.


Mr. Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Castle. I should call you ``Mr. Chairman,'' even though you are only acting.


I'm very pleased to join you today in the first of two hearings to examine the Federal Child Nutrition Program.

I believe that it's fair say that we all know that proper nutrition fulfills a vital role in ensuring that a child can concentrate on their school work rather than deal with the health and academic consequences of an unsubstantial diet. I know that Chairman Riggs and I are both looking forward to reading the testimony and hearing the testimony from the witnesses today. We're extremely interested in each of your perspectives.

Today in the morning news there were reports on a study that was produced by Second Harvest. I'm sure many of you are aware of it. They are the Nation's largest hunger-relief organization. The study found that its food banks provided food to 21 million people in 1997. After five years of expanding economic growth in this country, there are still large numbers of families which have not been lifted by our Nation's prosperity. This high incident of hunger in our country demands our attention. Clearly, the work that this committee will do over the coming months on Federal child nutrition programs is vitally important.

As many of you know, several bills have been introduced that deal with various issues in our child nutrition programs. One of our own committee members, Representative Lynn Woolsey, has taken a strong leadership role in the child nutrition arena through the introduction of her Meals for Achievement Act, H.R. 3086, of which I and the ranking member of the full committee, Representative Clay, are original cosponsors.

Ms. Woolsey's bill introduces two very important topics in our discussion of child nutrition programs. The idea of a universal school breakfast and allowing our schools which operate after-school programs to provide meals for both children and teenagers. Both proposals will go a long way toward ensuring that our children have nutritious diets. And any effort to supplement after-school programs is sure to have a positive effect on reducing juvenile crime.

I'm especially interested in hearing the witnesses' perspectives on both those issues today because I strongly believe that they must be a part of our deliberations during this reauthorization cycle. In addition to universal breakfast and expansion of nutritional snacks in after-school programs, I believe we need to carefully examine the problematic cuts which were part of welfare reform in 1996. As many of you know, I did not support that bill for many reasons. My objections included the loss of reimbursement for a fourth meal or snack in day care homes, the reduction of meal and snack subsidies, and the termination of breakfast and summer expansion grants, among many others.

This subcommittee would be negligent if we did not thoughtfully review these changes and their future impacts. I would hope that we could look at restoring as many of those as possible.

In closing, I want to thank the administration for its leadership on child nutrition. In the near future, the administration should transmit its reauthorization proposal to Congress, and I'm anxious to hear the details of its aspects today. I believe those issues raised by the administration, and in a bipartisan manner from our colleagues, will enable our committee to report out a bill that truly strengthens our Federal commitment to child nutrition. I’m hopeful this will be a bipartisan effort. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Mr. Castle. Well, thank you, Mr. Martinez, and I hope that all that you've predicted comes true--that we have a good bipartisan bill here. Now I will go through a brief introduction of the witnesses, Mr. McKeon will introduce Mr. DeBurgh, and then we will go to their statements.

We have first Mr. Ed Cooney, who is the Deputy Administrator of Special Nutrition Programs within Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services at the Department of Agriculture here in Washington, D.C. He has, by the way, the longest title of any administrator in Washington, D.C.


He joined the Department of Agriculture after spending the last 18 years serving as Deputy Director and Vice President for Program and Legislation in the Food Research Action Center.

Mr. Bob Robinson is the Issue Area Director at GAO. Child nutrition programs are under his jurisdiction. Mr. Robinson will discuss with us the results of a soon-to-be-released GAO report on the Summer Food Program.

Ms. Melinda Turner is Director of Food Services for Owsely--did I say that correctly?--


Ms. Turner. ``Owsely.''


Mr. Castle. --Owsely County schools in Booneville, Kentucky.


She testifies on behalf of the American School Food Service Association, of which she is currently acting as president. And Mr. McKeon will do the honors of Mr. DeBurgh.


Mr. McKeon. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your giving me the time to introduce a good friend and constituent for mine, Rick DeBurgh.

For the past 21 years, Rick has been in the school food service industry. He began his career in the United States Army, continued at American Airlines and served our world athletes at the 1984 Olympics. For the last ten years he has served as the director of food services for the Glendale Unified School District in Glendale, California. In addition to his work for the school district, he serves as president-elect of the California School Food Service Association; past-president of the Southern California School Food Services Association and the State Chair of the Child Nutrition Committee for the California Association of School Business Officials.

Since I arrived in Congress in 1993, Rick has always given me and the committee honest and forthright advice on child nutrition issues. In fact, he testified before this committee during our last reauthorization. He works tirelessly on ways to reduce paperwork and innovate the school service industry. Actually, I think we've been able to put several of his recommendations into law, and it's how the system works where people from home can really have impact. I appreciate Rick taking the time to be with us today, and welcome him to this panel.

I'm not on the subcommittee, so I appreciate the chairman letting me do this, and I'll need to leave early to go back to another hearing. Thank you.


Mr. Castle. Thank you, Mr. McKeon. You always get a longer introduction when your Congressman introduces you than you do otherwise. Has everybody noticed that?


Our next witness is Ms. Joyce Holmes Benjamin who is the associate superintendent of the Oregon Department of Education. Ms. Benjamin will discuss with us the Oregon comprehensive child nutrition proposal. She has extensive experience with such initiatives, having worked closely on Ed-Flex, which grew out of the desire of Oregon to bring greater flexibility to education.

Ms. Benjamin worked closely with this committee to add a flexibility provision to Federal education law. During the 103rd Congress, Ed-Flex was enacted as part of Goals2000 in the Improving America's Schools Act. Ed-Flex is based on Oregon education law and allows the state board of education to waive a broad group of regulations while local school districts must remain accountable for results.

Next is Ms. Sharon Cox who is president of the Montgomery County, Maryland Council of PTAs, an important role.

And finally, Mr. John Murphy who is the section chief of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. He represents the State Directors of Child Nutrition Programs.

I think you all know the basic rules. We have your testimony in full and we accept your written testimony. You don't even have to ask for that by unanimous consent. And we would ask that you summarize your testimony, as best you can, in five minutes. You'll see a yellow light, that gives you a minute. You'll see a red light and that gives you nothing at that point.


So if you'll try to wrap up your statements, mainly because we have so many witnesses, and then each of us will take increments of five minutes for Q-and-A sessions, and if we have additional questions beyond that we'll try to extend that to the members as well. And we will go in the same order in which I introduced everybody. So with that we'll start with Mr. Cooney.




Mr. Cooney. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the invitation to submit testimony before this committee. There's an old saying in government, ``The first six months is the most difficult.'' Today I begin my seventh month of service. Ordinarily, Under Secretary Shirley Watkins would be here but she's testifying before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee on similar issues at the same time. I'm accompanied by George Braley, Associate Administrator for FNS, one of our most respected officials and colleagues.

As the DASNP, a shorter version of my title, I helped to administer $13 billion worth of child nutrition and food distribution programs. Although my experience is limited in government, I have testified many times before this committee in my former life as Deputy Director of FRAC, the Nation's leading anti-hunger organization. Previously I've worked with Chairmen Perkins, Goodling, Hawkins and Ford, as well as Representative Jeffords, Miller, Kildee, and Clay on the 1978 child nutrition programs, the amendments of 1981, and the child nutrition reauthorization bills of 1986, 1989 and 1994.

I've testified before Mr. Martinez on two occasions when he chaired the Human Resources Subcommittee. I recount this brief history because I do believe that it is an honor and privilege to testify before this committee. Members and staff of this committee have had a great impact on my life as an advocate for child nutrition programs and as an administrator at USDA.

I believe the leaders whose portraits you see on the wall, that I see that are not here, they're in the back, they want us to get on with the business of feeding children, and improving the nutrition and health status of kids, whether they be in school, a child-care center, a family day-care home, or in a WIC clinic. It's not that these powerful figures did not fight and occasionally curse us and each other, but when the day was done, each acknowledged that men and women of good will, whether they were Democrats or Republicans, could come to common ground when it comes to promoting nutrition programs for the Nation's children. They were keenly aware of, as Mr. Martinez has noted, that there is an important relationship between nutrition and learning. They knew that ``the hungry child cannot learn'' and eventually compete in a global marketplace.

It is in this spirit and need for bipartisan leadership that the Administration would like to present its Fiscal Year 1999 child nutrition reauthorization bill. This is the first such bill, Mr. Chairman, that has cleared the Office of Management and Budget and actually reached the Hill in 20 years. The last bill was the Carter bill in 1978. We can get a bill this year which we think you'll be pleased with.

The bill will authorize the programs that are about to expire. It will be cost-neutral; that means we will be making modest improvements in summer food, child-care and school meals, and any change that has a CBO cost will have an offset. It'll continue 25 to 35 non-cost improvements and technical amendments, and we think you'll like it.

Under Secretary Watkins believes that the focus of food and nutrition programs ought to be nutrition and nutrition education. With this view in mind, she had 8 to 10 listening sessions with parents, students, pre-school and after-school advocates and sponsors, school food-service, and summer food officials with directors and nutritionists.

Mr. Chairman, we have listened at these listening sessions. Program changes and improvements have been tailored to meet the recommendations of the people that receive benefits and those who administer our Federal nutrition programs. Many of the recommendations are consistent with the views expressed by participants at the White House Conferences on Education and Child-Care.

The provisions that we recommend fall into the following categories: access, integrity, simplification, and food-safety. In the Summer Food Program, we will be making recommendations to remove some restrictions on private non-profit sponsors. The reason we're doing that is that we want people to have access to these programs in rural areas and we want to remove some paperwork burdens.

It is true that these programs had problems in the 1970's, and in the late 1980's, and this committee acted to loosen restrictions on those things and we believe now you ought to take another step further. We will be following program integrity issues in this arena by making sure that new sponsors, and sponsors that have spotty administrative records, get special attention.

In terms of the Child and Adult Care Food Program, as Mr. Martinez indicated, at-risk programs for kids 13 to 18 need to be addressed. Those kids need a nutrition program. If this committee is going to do an after school initiative, those kids need to have a nutrition component. We recommend that in certain circumstances you raise the age limit.

We believe that the Even Start Program ought to be funded, making kids categorically eligible. The Kentucky-Iowa demonstration project ought to be made permanent. We are aware that there are program integrity problems in the Child and Adult Care Food Program and we will be looking at those, and we'll be happy to respond to your questions.

Wrapping up, since I just ran through the red light, I wanted you to know that the WIC program is doing well. The Administration does continue to recommend full funding for that program, and we appreciate the bipartisan support we have seen in that area. We will be proposing program documentation requirements in that program and we'd be glad to answer questions on that. As Lynn and June will be probably be asking their bosses, ``Well, how are we going to finance these?'' We're going to terminate the 2 percent audit program in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and we'd be happy to tell you why in the next 5 minutes when the questions come up. We plan to compensate for that by allowing state agencies to retain 50 percent of funds recovered through state-conducted programs and reviews across all programs. This is the first time this has been proposed, whether it's school lunch or school breakfast, Child and Adult Care, the states will have an incentive to retain the money.

We will be requiring health and safety inspections for on-site preparations and we are asking for your assistance in allowing us to use Section 32 funds to recover things like strawberries that have Hepatitis A in them. We don't think they should be allowed to remain in warehouses. We have no funds to go out and collect them.

In summary, this bill is cost-neutral making important but modest changes. We have had two constructive meetings with the Majority and Minority staff on the reauthorization bill on highly contentious issues. There have been only two recorded deaths in this process.


On a more serious point, you have our commitment at FNS to work out a reauthorization bill that meets the needs of this committee and its commitment to America's children. Thank you again for the honor and privilege of appearing before this subcommittee, be happy to answer questions at the appropriate time.

See Appendix B for the written statement of Mr. Ed Cooney.


Mr. Castle. Thank you, Mr. Cooney. I realize that what you were doing, particularly carrying the water of the Administration in terms of this proposal is important, and you probably did not have sufficient time to go into everything that we should have heard but hopefully when we get into questions, we'll be able to develop some of those issues, and we do appreciate your being here.

Mr. Robinson?




Mr. Robinson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We are pleased, of course, to have this opportunity to discuss our ongoing work for the full committee on the effects of changes made to the USDA Summer Food Program by the Welfare Reform Act. These changes reduced the Federal subsidies that sponsors received for meals served, eliminated the subsidy all together for a fourth meal provided in summer camps, and as part of programs for migrant children, and eliminated grants to assist sponsors in expanding the program.

To assess these changes, we surveyed program officials in all fifty states and the District of Columbia, and analyzed the data they provided. Our work is continuing, but let me briefly summarize what we have found with respect to the first year's experiences under welfare reform. Overall, the reductions in meal subsidies did not have a large scale impact on either the number of program sponsors or the number of children participating in the program in 1997. State officials specifically identified 22 sponsors, out of about 3,400 participating in 1996, that stopped participating in the program in 1997 because of the reduced subsidies.

Likewise, a relatively small number of children lost access to the program for this reason. The 22 sponsors that stopped participating had an average daily attendance of about 5,000 children. At least half of these children were ultimately served by other sponsors. Overall, 38 states and the District of Columbia reported that the total number of children participating in the program was not affected by the reduced reimbursement. In these states total reimbursement either stayed the same or increased. Officials in 11 states reported that the number of children participating in the program in their state decreased somewhat as a result of the lowered meal reimbursement rate.

There were some other effects resulting from the subsidy reduction, however. Almost half of the states reported that sponsors took action to cut costs by reducing the number of food items in the meals they provided, reducing the number of locations where meals were served, or other similar steps. Moreover, while there were only minimal changes in the number of sponsors and participation in 1997, both USDA, and about half of the states, expect to see a decrease in the number of sponsors and in the number of children participating over the next three years because of the reduced subsidies. Because of this, USDA in several states, said that sponsors continued their participation in 1997 to test whether they could financially manage the program with the reduced rate. The officials suspect that sponsors that could not manage the program with the reduced rates will leave the program in future years. USDA and some states are taking steps to mitigate this impact, however.

The other program changes mandated by welfare reform had limited effect as well during the first year. First, the decrease in the number of meals for which summer camps and migrant sponsors could be reduced resulted in the loss of reimbursement for a snack, not a meal. To this end, the number of camp snacks subsidized by the program was 59 percent lower in 1997 than in 1996. Other state officials told us that the elimination of the fourth meal did not have much impact on some camps because in their state the camps were not serving a fourth meal anyway.

Second, the elimination of the start-up and expansion grants will probably not have a major impact because they were not widely used in the first place. In both Fiscal Years 1995 and 1996, USDA made $1.5 million available for these grants but only 44 percent of the funds were awarded in the two year period. State officials told us that this low usage resulted from excessive paperwork requirements. For the small amount of funding provided, sponsors concluded that the paperwork burden make the grant just not worth pursuing.

Mr. Chairman, this represents the highlights of our work on the impact of welfare reform on the program in 1997. We are continuing our data collection efforts to include information on 1998 participation. We will include this updated information in our final report scheduled for issuance in the fall. By including two years of program experience in our final report, we should be able to provide a fairly definitive assessment of the Act's impact. Our preliminary assessment based on the first year's result, however, did not demonstrate a dramatic impact overall.

Thank you and I'd be happy to entertain questions.

See Appendix C for the written statement of Mr. Robinson.


Mr. Castle. Thank you, Mr. Robinson. We appreciate your testimony and next we'll hear from Ms. Turner.




Ms. Turner. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Martinez and members of the Committee, I am Melinda Turner, director of food services in Owsely County in Booneville, Kentucky, and President of the American School Food Service Association. Thank you for allowing me to testify before you today.

This year holds great promise for child nutrition programs. Working together--the Congress, the Administration and a broad coalition of people and organizations who care about children, nutrition, education and hunger issues--we have the opportunity to make significant improvements in some of the most effective Federal programs ever enacted. Improving access to meals at school, maintaining a commitment to healthful, nutritious meals, and making the program more simple to administer is everyone's goal.

The American School Food Service Association has identified a number of issues which we hope will be included in this year's child nutrition reauthorization legislation. I would like to briefly discuss two of the issues. My written testimony addresses all of the issues and I have copies of the scientific studies to which I refer.

First, I would like to address the subject of after-school child-care. Public Law 101-147, enacted in November of 1989, allows schools to provide meal supplements to children under the National School Lunch Act if they operate school lunch programs, and offer after-school care programs, and were participating in the Child and Adult Care Food program as of May 15, 1989, and serve only children under the age of 13. Currently, only four schools in the entire United States are eligible to participate.

The need for quality child care is a growing concern to Americans. Schools offer a great opportunity by utilizing existing infrastructure and facilities. The Administration, including the Justice Department and the Department of Education, is encouraging schools to become centers for school activity to help ensure the safety of children.

Police and social service professionals know that the most dangerous time of day for teens is between the school bell and the dinner bell. Offering snacks is one element of keeping children at school. While there, schools can provide remedial and enrichment programs which will benefit the children at the same time we are protecting them.

How many of us can go from lunch until dinner without a snack or a small meal? How well do we function? Can we expect growing children to continue their learning without nourishment? Does turning 13 eliminate hunger or mean that children no longer need supervision? The legislation we support, therefore, which is section 3 of H.R. 3086, would eliminate the May 15, 1989, date and the age restriction from the statute. We are not advocating a new program, merely making the existing law more fair for all schools.

The second issue I would like to address this morning is school breakfast. The American School Food Service Association enthusiastically supports the Meals for Achievement Act, H.R. 3086. Congresswoman Woolsey has introduced this legislation which would provide school breakfast to all elementary students at no cost. Ms. Woolsey, we appreciate your leadership on this issue and I understand that your legislation, H.R. 3086, has more than 50 cosponsors and the support of five governors.

Mr. Chairman, while the Administration and Congress are considering substantial investment in education, we believe that an investment in school breakfast will yield significant results and improve educational outcomes. A growing volume of scientifically validated evidence supports what our mothers have always told us--that eating a nutritious breakfast is critical to our ability to perform.

A 1989 study by Dr. Allen Meyers, a pediatrician at Boston Medical Center, demonstrated improvements in attendance, behavior and test scores in a population of low-income children in Lawrence, Massachusetts, when school breakfast was offered. More recently, Drs. Michael Murphy and Ron Kleinman from Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, found similar results in studies of the Universal Breakfast pilot programs in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.

The State of Minnesota did a multi-year pilot providing school breakfast to 6 schools representing a broad cross-section of socio-economic groups. The results, studied by the University of Minnesota, found that all children benefited from school breakfast. Based on these results, Minnesota has expanded the number of schools participating in the project.

The issue of school breakfast crosses economic and social lines. It is not a question of a family's ability to provide breakfast as much as the new reality of single parent and two-wage-earner families. A letter of support for the Meals for Achievement Act from Governor William Janklow of South Dakota said, and I quote, ``I still believe the best place for breakfast is at home, eating together as a family. However, the fact of the matter is that it does not happen in a lot of family situations.''

The Meals for Achievement Act is an important step forward in securing the future of America. As we move forward into a new millennium where we are increasingly dependent on brains and decreasingly dependent on brawn, nutrition is still key to success. And what we've always known that, ``you can't teach a hungry child,'' is being supported by scientific proof. It is incumbent on us to provide the tools that our children need if we are to keep our competitive edge in the new world.

Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, thank you again for affording me this time to share the views of the 65,000 food service professionals who are members of the American School Food Service Association. We very much appreciate the support and commitment of each member of the committee. We look forward to working closely with you on legislation which will impact the lives of millions of children and the future of our Nation.

I will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the issues that we discussed today. Thank you.

See Appendix D for the written statement of Ms. Turner.


Mr. Castle. Thank you, Ms. Turner.

Mr. DeBurgh?



Mr. DeBurgh. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for not falling asleep during my introduction. I testified before this committee four years ago on reauthorization legislation. In an effort to reduce paperwork, and with the assistance of Congressmen McKeon, USDA was required to review the use of already existing business forms to meet the requirements for keeping production records. Two years later, USDA sent Congressman McKeon 8 pages which did not even address this issue. I provided that as an attachment.

Over two years ago, Congress passed Public Law 104-149 which allows the use of any reasonable approach to meet the dietary guidelines for Americans. USDA then published Guidelines for Implementing Public Law 104-149. These guidelines were so bad that this committee and the Senate sent a letter on October 2, 1996, to Secretary Glickman signed by both the House and Senate, Majority and Minority members, and I quote, ``We're looking forward to hearing from you on this matter in the near future,'' expressing their disappointment. Apparently, 17 months later is not in the ``near future,'' because USDA has not yet published those regulations.

Over seven years ago, Congress authorized paperwork reduction pilot projects. An example is a pilot project in National City, California to test the use of statistical models, instead of individual applications. USDA never issued a final report as required by Congress. Therefore, I have no attachment because they didn't do anything.

There are many changes which could be requested. Many of the items in the 1990 Report to Congress on Paperwork Reduction have never been implemented, even the ones USDA did not disagree with have not been implemented.

I'd like to give you a few examples: this cup of salsa counts as a food; this cup of salsa doesn't count as a food. Both of these cups of salsas are identical. They're made out of the exactly same ingredients. However, USDA issued a ruling that manufactured salsa, even their own salsa that they make as a commodity, cannot be counted as a food. It's based on where the product is made. If it's manufactured, it doesn't count. If you make it in a kitchen, it does count. I ask that USDA be required to base food value on nutrients, not on where salsa is made. In fact, in northern California, at my suggestion, one company making salsa, in order to continue counting it, relabeled it as ``Mexican vegetable topping,'' and it now counts.

This cookie counts as a food; this cookie doesn't count as a food. However, if you change hands, this cookie is now a food; this cookie isn't. According to food-based menu patterns, on one food-based menu pattern the cookie counts as a food; on the other food-based menu pattern the cookie doesn't count as a food. The nutritive value of the cookies don't change no matter which food menu you're using. However, I'm sure that USDA could write you a 400-page manual on why their rulings on salsa and cookies make sense. I would like to have legislation to require USDA to have foods count the same on both food based menu patterns.

As a local option, I would like school districts to use the National School Lunch Program, instead of summer feeding regulations and rules, to provide meals at sites eligible for either program on non-school days. That's just a local option. Savings could result in elimination of an entire separate system and a lower reimbursement rate.

On February 17th of this year, USDA proposed in Federal Register, Volume 63, No. 31, another unnecessary rule change. This change would no longer allow any state that has found a less intrusive way to implement some federal regulations to do so. All states would be required to adhere to a ``USDA knows best,' Federal mandate, one-size-fits-all regulation. I'd like to have that proposal rescinded, and actually require USDA to find something wrong with local implementation before they ban it.

I would like to have USDA allow a statistical model, such as the National City pilot project, and renewal of eligibility for provisions II and III so that applications are not required.

As Mr. Martinez mentioned earlier, the school breakfast initiative has been proposed. Over 50 percent of the children already eligible for free breakfasts in schools that are serving breakfast do not participate. Children, like their parents, skip breakfast in order to sleep longer. Breakfast participation climbs to over 80 percent when breakfast is served at recess or snack after the school day has started. I'd like to amend proposed legislation to apply to those districts not on Provisions II or III, that, as a local option serve breakfast during the school day.

Finally, and most important, and why I'm wearing my ``green eggs and ham'' tie is that in earlier 1993 four deaths and hundreds of illnesses were traced to E. coli 0157:H7 from hamburger served at Jack in the Box. Last year thousands of Burger Kings were unable to serve burgers because of the same bacteria, which is the only one labeled as an adulterant by USDA. A single test, available for less than 1/250 cent per pound, would check for this adulterant. Jack-in-the-Box now checks every single truckload. USDA checks nothing. Although this test is not foolproof, it is clearly superior to doing nothing. I ask that this test be required as part of USDA inspections for plants awarded contracts for processing commodity beef. Thank you.

See Appendix E for the written statement of Mr. DeBurgh.


Mr. Castle. Thank you, Mr. DeBurgh. We appreciate your testimony and look forward to the questions of you.

We'll go next to Ms. Holmes Benjamin.



Ms. Holmes Benjamin. Thank you very much. I must say I appreciated very much, Mr. Chairman, your introduction, and thank you Congressman Martinez and members of the committee for allowing me to come and testify about the Oregon proposal for a comprehensive child nutrition initiative. I was reminded of my days as a 4-H leader of the Sugar and Spice Cooking Club in Junction City, Oregon when I had the pleasure of sitting down next to Mr. DeBurgh and enjoyed his demonstration.

We would all agree, I think, that nutrition educators and child care professionals acknowledge the importance and success of existing child nutrition programs and helping children to grow to be healthy and ready to learn. These Child Nutrition programs are critical to the good health of all our children.

This proposal that we developed in Oregon supports the goals of these programs by urging creation of a simplified, more comprehensive approach in their administration.

I'm going to talk a little bit about how the proposal was developed. It grew out of our interest actually in greater flexibility and making government more accountable and more responsive, and achieving the kinds of efficiencies that you can do with government. Government should be effective, it should be efficient, and it should really deliver what people need. You have to have an accountable system, I think, in order to really feed children adequately. I think we're missing children now that we could feed if we could simplify the paperwork burden.

This initiative grew out of work that we did on the Benchmark, the Oregon Option and Ed-Flex. As you probably know, Senator Hatfield and other members of the Oregon delegation, members of this committee and your staff, worked vigorously to include Ed-Flex in Goals 2000, and its predecessor America 2000, and the Improving America's Schools Act.

Oregon became a first demonstration State and we've used Ed-Flex effectively, as have other states. Here's one problem for Oregonians: Ed-Flex does not apply to child nutrition programs even though much of the paperwork that burdens schools come from those same programs. There was a survey in 1989 and 44 percent of all the paperwork imposed on educational institutions by the Federal government came from the U.S. Department of Education nutrition programs.

We've had a couple of reauthorizations since then. There's been some simplification, but the people in the field complain incessantly about the burden of these programs.

What we've tried to do, then, is we've put together a coalition and we had health department officials, State Department of Education officials, people from the Oregon School Food Service Association, the Hunger Relief Task Force, Children First for Oregon, and a group of other people to work on developing a proposal. The proposal was circulated around the State, went to a lot of meetings. We had a very large meeting where a number of people, including people from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, San Francisco office, came up and attended it; and that proposal has the support of practically everybody in Oregon who has had the opportunity to consider it.

It certainly has the enthusiastic support of Governor Kitzhaber, Superintendent Norma Paulus, the State Board of Education, and others. The Oregon congressional delegation has looked at this proposal and they too support it.

So once the proposal is out--well, it's really a two-part proposal. There's part I and part II. I'm not going to talk about the portion that deals with WIC. We believe that can be done by waivers from USDA and I think it should not be the focus of our attention today. Part I talks about the, what we would call the School Lunch Program, and those are the ones that are important I think to discuss.

I'm going to go quickly--it bundles up the School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program, Child and Adult Care Program, Summer Food Program. The focus then is to have children better prepared to learn, to run the program more effectively, and to improve the health of Oregon's children.

What the proposal would do is ask Congress to set up a demonstration program. We are concerned that the reauthorization will not be thorough-going enough for various reason, and perhaps the Congress would need more information about how these programs work. So we would suggest a demonstration program where several eligible states would negotiate with the Secretary of Agriculture to set up a demonstration program.

What Oregon is proposing is one program for any eligible sponsor that meets the definition of single meal counting and claiming system, one definition of a child, a single application per household, one simplified reimbursement system, a consistent definition of ``needy'' for all child nutrition programs, a comprehensive set of meal types that must meet the national nutritional requirements set by the USDA, one administrative review by State agency staff based on continuous quality improvement of the sponsor's program, one management evaluation of the State agency every year as long as the demonstration program continues to make sure that we're doing it properly.

This proposal is intended to be cost-neutral. We, I noticed with some interest the language in the National School Lunch Act, and that's really what we're talking about in a pilot program that Mr. Miller offered and that is now in the School Lunch Program, and it says: ``the Federal reimbursement under the School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program in an amount equal to the total Federal reimbursement for the school in the prior year, under each such program, adjusted for inflation and the fluctuations in employment.''

We think we will be able to feed children better and do a better, less frustrating job. We're convinced that this will be a better program, and we hope you give us the opportunity to demonstrate it. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

See Appendix F for the written statement of Ms. Holmes Benjamin.


Mr. Castle. Well, thank you, Ms. Holmes Benjamin. We appreciate that, and your program is interesting. We'll certainly look at it.

Ms. Cox?



Ms. Cox. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Martinez, and members of the subcommittee. My name is Sharon Cox and I am the president of the Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations in Montgomery County, Maryland. I have three children in Montgomery County public schools. I welcome the opportunity to speak to you today from a grassroots perspective about Federal child nutrition programs in anticipation of this year's reauthorization of those programs.

The nutritional needs of our Nation's children, the proven links between nutrition and learning, and the future implications of these issues are vitally important to us all. In my statement, I would like to focus on the School Breakfast Program. I speak today for National PTA. We, too, support Representative Woolsey's bill. Representatives of our 6.5 million members have affirmed the National PTA's legislative directive on child nutrition which supports efforts to expand and improve Federal child nutrition programs.

This year we are looking forward to working with Congress on child nutrition reauthorization legislation. We believe the time is right for change. No major expansion of the Child Nutrition Program has been enacted in nearly 20 years. In addition, the economy is in an excellent state, and the president's Fiscal Year 1999 budget request projects growing surpluses over the next 10 years. All of these factors provide Congress with substantial flexibility in developing budget priorities that sustain a strong economy, maintain sound fiscal policies, and invest in children's education and related needs.

Child nutrition programs are a tool to help assure that all children receive a high-quality education which will lead to a productive workforce, and keep the United States competitive in the next century. The fact is ``hungry children cannot learn.'' This time of reauthorization provides a good opportunity to create a universal breakfast program that would provide school breakfast at no charge to all students enrolled in elementary schools. This would not be a mandate. Local schools would still make the decision to participate or not, and families would certainly still make the decision about their own child's participation. But for the children who would participate, a universal breakfast program would be a cost-effective investment that will have returns far into the future.

Consider the results of a universal breakfast pilot program created in Minnesota in 1994, mentioned earlier in testimony. The evaluation shows that the universal school breakfast program created a new atmosphere in the schools, resulting in reduced nurse visits, improvement in attendance, student attention and behavior; and student achievement in test scores. In a survey of parents, a majority agree that the pilot resulted in a positive experience and that nutritious foods were offered. Many parents noted that their children's learning and concentration increased as a result of the universal school breakfast program.

Overall, this study showed that a breakfast program has positive effects, both directly and indirectly, on the educational, health and social well-being of students, teachers, and families. At the pilot schools, universal breakfast is no longer a demonstration. Breakfast at these schools has become an important and effective part of the school day.

National PTA supports universal breakfast and advocates that school breakfast be thought of as an education-related program, not a poverty or welfare program. Regardless of a family's socio-economic status, school breakfast is necessary, and a school-based program can be a valuable community resource. Schools do not use income to determine which students will ride the bus to school, take a new book home, or use a school's equipment or library facilities. With breakfast, however, identifying children according to income is a necessary part of the current program. As a result, being identified as ``poor'' has become a major reason why low-income students are reluctant to participate even when a child nutrition program is available. By providing breakfast to all children who are hungry, this stigma is eliminated.

Enacting a universal school breakfast program would benefit the child, the school, the family, and the country as a whole by preparing children for learning, improving attendance, reducing behavioral disturbances, fighting childhood hunger, reallocating staff and money from paperwork and enforcement activities to implementing dietary guidelines and promoting program quality. Removing the stigma associated with this program by eliminating identification of low-income children and integrating school breakfast into the regular school day to promote overall nutrition and good health.

The investment aspect of the universal breakfast program and the long-term educational and financial benefits of educating children to their full potential should not be overlooked. The money the Federal Government invests in child nutrition programs directly benefits children, but it is provided as a general subsidy to schools to help them operate successful programs and provide healthy nutritious meals.

The bottom line is if we care enough about our Nation's children, their educational achievement, their health, and their nutrition, we must be willing to place their needs as high-budget priorities and find the appropriate offsets if necessary.

Thank you for this opportunity.

See Appendix G for the written statement of Ms. Cox.


Mr. Castle. Thank you Ms. Cox, we appreciate you being here.

And, finally, Mr. Murphy is our last witness.



Mr. Murphy. Thank you Mr. Chairman and Mr. Martinez, and distinguished members of this committee. I am honored to have been invited last week to speak before you today on the reauthorization of several special nutrition programs. My name is John Murphy, and I am privileged to be the state director for the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, and Special Milk programs in North Carolina. I am here today representing the State Directors of Child Nutrition Programs nationwide.

I would like to say that I am particularly pleased of the State directors in the southeast. We have a major impact on the economy and the education of children. It's my understanding that more than 30 percent of all school lunches are served in the southeastern states. Currently, our Department of Public Instruction administers lunch, breakfast, milk. The Summer Food Service and Child and Adult Care Food Program were transferred several years ago to our Department of Health and Human Services.

I have read Ms. Turner's complete testimony and wholeheartedly agree with all that she represents with regard to reauthorization and the administrative changes noted. I would like to compliment our professional association, as well as our National Food Service Management Institute. They both do an excellent job on behalf of the many professionals nationwide that they represent, and that they instruct.

Today, I would like to place my emphasis on the School Breakfast Program and the Summer Food Service Program for children. I have seen a steady increase in the number of students participating in the School Breakfast Program. Since school year 1995-1996, the daily average has moved from 162,000 students to more than 209,000 annual--excuse me, daily. Our department has extolled the benefits of school breakfast on the cognitive process since 1984. All school systems in North Carolina participate in the School Breakfast Program, and several have a universal program in their system. South Carolina and Florida have School Breakfast Program mandates, yet not all children consume breakfast at school.

In order to test our presumptions in North Carolina about why all students do not participate, we held focus groups with school principals to give us their reasoning. The principals' input coupled with that of my colleagues indicate the following: instructional day scheduling, bus schedules, lack of student desire to have breakfast first thing in the morning, lack of knowledge by administrators that the program has flexibility, administrator and community belief that parents should provide breakfast, and student beliefs that school breakfast is only for the needy.

With regard to instructional day scheduling, some schools are making use of early arrival time. Students eat a quick breakfast in the cafeteria or as many systems--excuse me, as several systems do, they serve breakfast in the elementary classroom.

Bus scheduling is the second most troubling access issue that precludes students from being served breakfast. It is my belief that until the instructional day includes the service of breakfast to all children, regardless of their arrival time, then we will not be able to ensure service, even though there is significant Federal support.

Please recall that Florida and South Carolina have a breakfast mandate in all elementary schools. However, students don't have access because scheduling nullifies the laudable efforts of several state legislative bodies. If students are not ready for breakfast early in the morning, then we can provide an early morning break, or serve them breakfast in between classes. One of our schools in the state provides a walk-through breakfast, much like a drive-through breakfast at many popular eating establishments.

Program flexibility does exist in serving school breakfast. As mentioned, many local child nutrition directors have found a way to serve breakfast to students. It just takes continuous communication and a little extra effort. I want to state that I believe the service of breakfast to all elementary students should be a part of the overall education strategy. School breakfast is one way to improve long-term health and the test scores of our Nation's students.

Outside the area of program expansion, I offer one administrative suggestion: this is the elimination of cost documentation to receive severe-need breakfast rates. Perhaps the additional rate could be assigned based on needy percentages alone.

With input from my colleague at the Department of Health and Human Services, and my years of working as a coordinator for the Summer Food Service Program for children, I offer the following suggestions for enhancing this program: streamline the paperwork by integrating program applications, as well as facility applications for school lunch, school breakfast and child care; allow the study administrative expense plan of the Summer Food Service Program to be completed on a three-year cycle, or allow a current plan to remain in effect and to remain only as necessary; allow national School Lunch and School Breakfast Program sponsors at our public schools to maintain permanent approval without having to attend annual training sessions mandated in current regulations.

With these suggestions, I want to thank you again for your invitation and for allowing me the honor of appearing before you today. Thank you.

See Appendix H for the written statement of Mr. Murphy.


Mr. Castle. Thank you, Mr. Murphy, and I thank all of you for your testimony, a good percentage of which I agree with; I don't know about everybody else up here. There are a couple of questions I have. And I'll start the questioning. We'll have, I'm sure, at least a couple of rounds of questions and it's impossible to ask everybody something each time around. So let's try to do the best we can.

And I did want to start, Mr. Cooney, with you. First of all, you've indicated that the Administration's legislation is on it's way, sort of. Is that correct, can you, I'm sort of curious as to the exact timing of this?


Mr. Cooney. ``En route'' is a political term in Washington.



Mr. Castle. That's what worried me.


Mr. Cooney. Frank Ippolito has assured me that the instant that it's ready, he will be on the USDA van up to see Lynn and June and Alex.


Mr. Castle. Great, but this is relatively soon--


Mr. Cooney. It's real.


Ms. Castle. You're talking about--


Mr. Cooney. I have OMB policy clearance to testify today and to answer the questions about the bill. It is a, just a physical drama of getting the letters up and so forth. We do expect to have it in your office this afternoon--


Mr. Castle. Great.


Mr. Cooney. --the actual bill.


Mr. Castle. You indicated, and if I go beyond the parameters of what you can discuss, tell me, but you indicated that it would be cost-neutral is what I wrote down, ``offsets for any costs.'' Can you share with us, at this point, any of what those new costs might be? I'm not going to get in the offsets right now, we can discuss that some other time.


Mr. Cooney. Fine. We want to take a look at something that the committee has looked at over the years which is how can you make the Summer Food Program more available in rural areas, as well as reducing paperwork. So we're taking a look at the current circumstance which allows you to have 20 sites in a rural area and five sites in an urban area. We're saying let all people have 25 sites. There's a modest cost to that. We're also taking a look at the program that others have mentioned here. If you have kids in after-school programs, one of the ways to attract them in there is to provide them a snack, something to eat so they can go to these mentoring programs. But currently if you're over 13, you're like toast. Nobody cares, nobody cares. I don't know how people propose legislation on after school initiatives with no nutrition component.

Now we do not do what ASFSA recommended. We would like to, but we don't have the money. They would like you to remove the date and change the age. We think that those are great things, but our proposal would change the age from 13 to 18 for outside school, outside school hours programs in CACFP, but we would, because the amount of money we have is small, it would be targeted to areas of great need, 50 percent or more of the kids have to be poor. And it doesn't go as far as other panelists have recommended. That's something that you'll have to look at, but I'm under orders from OMB to support this program at its modest nature.


And so I'm doing that.


Mr. Castle. Willingly? No, never mind.



Mr. Cooney. Yes, yes, and climate is everything. But we would also, we need money to do program integrity. It is not, you know, it's not free. In order to determine how many kids are in an area that are 50 percent poor, and therefore qualified for the higher rates of reimbursement in Child and Adult Care Food Program, you have to know how many kids are between the ages of 0 and 12 and poor. Anybody can go to the library and look at the census data and see a run for kids for 0 to 18, but you will find no runs for 0 to 12. You have to purchase that run at Census. My, the organization I worked at last year, the Food Research and Action Center, purchased those and donated them to USDA last year because USDA didn't have the money to buy them. That's not good government. We need money to hire people, to go out and train and to take a look: ``What's going on in CACFP?'' That costs money.

Thank you.


Mr. Castle. Do you include in your proposal funding for the universal breakfast program that's been discussed by, I think, three of the witnesses today?


Mr. Cooney. We do not include funding for that proposal. We were unable to find an offset. We do appreciate Lynn Woolsey's leadership on this issue. We agree that the impact of stigma on school lunch, which has been highlighted by these studies, is significant, and we urge the committee to take a look at that. But our budget proposal includes full funding for WIC, replacement of food stamp coupons for legal immigrants that were knocked out last year, we have money in there for TFAP and Food Recovery and Gleaning. Those are the budgetary proposals included in our submission to the budget committee.


Mr. Castle. Let me ask, particularly I think Ms. Turner and Ms. Cox seem to be the strongest advocates of universal breakfast I believe here. Do you have a funding offset for that? It's a, as I understand it, $2.1 billion program over five years, which is, even by congressional standards, real money.


I think we all want to balance the budget, Republicans and Democrats alike, and we're very interested in keeping our expenditures in line. So, while obviously it has a lot of merits to it, the question is can we afford it, can we do it? Do you have any specific proposals as to offsets?


Ms. Turner. No, thank you for that question. I really cannot prioritize the Federal budget. I wish I had a quick and easy answer for you there, but I do not. But I do know that it's an important program. It's good for children. It's good for education and I know that you and every member of your committee share the same commitment that we the members of ASFSA do, and that's to ensure that children in the United States have every opportunity to reach their full potential. And I'm sure that you will find an answer because there's not any better program than one to prepare children to learn.


Mr. Castle. I'm sure we'll find an answer too. I'm not 100 percent sure you're going to like it, but I'm sure we'll find one.


Ms. Cox?


Ms. Cox. We have not identified specific offsets. We do believe, however, that the Fiscal Year 1999 budget cumulative surplus of $1 trillion over 10 years does provide Congress with a certain amount of flexibility on this issue.


Mr. Castle. Thank you.

Mr. Martinez?


Mr. Martinez. I chuckle when you say that because right now the big issue is what to do with the budget surplus. Do we give a tax break or do we try to repair Medicare? Nobody is even thinking about child nutrition programs. You brought up a good point. The point is that if you want a program and you realize the necessity of that program and it's important enough to the people up here, then we find a way to fund it. I go back to the last time we got into this situation with school lunch, I guess the terminology was ``the Republicans school lunched themselves.'' I hope they're not going to try to get into that same predicament again.

If you really want to provide the money for them, you can. Funds can always be found. All we have to do is not build one of those B-2 bombers that we have allocated for and there's more than enough money. The fact is that it costs $21 billion for a B-2 bomber. How many programs, how many lunches, and breakfasts could we provide for just a portion of that money? So it could be done. It boils down to what your priority is.

It's good to see you again, Mr. Cooney, and over the years when we worked together, I've always admired your tenacity and your devotion to the programs that you’re promoting. I am sure you can remember the debates in the past where we discussed the idea of simplifying paperwork and eliminating burdens. It seems like USDA has dragged its feet, and I'm glad you're over there. You can't be held responsible for that because, as you said, you're only in your seventh month. I'm hoping this new does have some provisions to simplify paperwork. You've heard several witnesses here testify to its importance. I hope we can see the conclusion of that in this next go around.

Mr. Cooney. Well, my experience has been that if you feed administrators, their hearts and minds will follow. So if I could get one of those cookies I think can try to solve at least the salsa problem.



Mr. DeBurgh. You want the one that's a bread or without a bread?



Mr. Cooney. I'm a nutrient analysis guy and a food based menu planning guy. But I have to be honest with you. Over the years, USDA has tried to reduce paperwork. And I know that Mr. DeBurgh knows a lot more about this than I do, but everybody wants to reduce paperwork, and they want everything to be flexible. It actually takes time to do that because when we present proposals, and I'm not saying that we've been world beaters in this, but we have presented these proposals. We go to all the various agencies and so forth and they want to know exactly what it is that you're doing, and how many impacts you will have at the local level. It takes longer. I mean, everybody up there on the panel, Mr. Kildee, Ms. Woolsey, and you, and Mr. Castle, have been here a long time. It takes longer to do regulations, and I'm not going to roll over and play dead. You know, that we're doing everything that we can, but we have published as recently as February, only last month, some paperwork, you know, policy amendments in the summer food area.

Now I didn't mention in my testimony because I was at the 4 minute, 50 seconds slot, but we have 9 policy memos that are going to be put together for the Summer Food Program to reduce paperwork, and to take care of some things for people. They don't cost anything, they're efficient government. They came about as a result of people like Mr. DeBurgh and others like him that came to Washington to our Summer Food summit. So we're going, you know, to like do all those things. We're also--somebody's going to ask, ``Where is the `any reasonable approach' rule?'' I can feel it.

So I'm saying that it's, you know, we work very well with OMB. I was at their last session on releasing the CACFP Tier I regulations. They have the ``any reasonable approach'' rule. They're looking at it. They will question us next week on it. We really do expect that to be out real soon. In my notes, it says ``spring.'' Well spring has come early this year, we hope that it'll be real soon.


Mr. Martinez. Thank you.


Mr. Murphy, you seem to advocate school breakfast by any means, and you mentioned in your testimony about the time kids eat breakfast.


Mr. Murphy. Yes, I did


Mr. Martinez. I have to agree that if you feed them breakfast at 7:30, then it’s not going to happen effectively. In addition, after their first class may be a little bit too late. In conjunction with that, Ms. Turner testified that the adequate timing of meals through the day is very important to whether these nutritious meals really accomplish what we want them to accomplish, a child thinking about his or her studies rather than his or her hungry stomach. How would you reconcile this? We want to give the programs the flexibility to operate, but I would think that you need to give some guidelines or, some set of criteria for the spacing of those meals. Lunch should be somewhere near to noon, yet a lot of schools provide lunch at 10 o'clock or 10:30. How would you address this problem?


Mr. Murphy. Yes, I like the issue of flexibility. I think we ought to have some encouragement for local program administrators to have as a part of their overall education strategy, that school breakfast and that school lunch. I know that their time within their instructional day is very limited, but I think that if we continue to encourage that, provide the funding we suggest through the legislation, that we can in fact get that job done. I think, in terms of your comment about not building one of the B-52 bombers, perhaps if we could do some statistical research on eliminated or reduced health care costs, and eliminated or reduced remediation costs of education, that we could more than justify the $2.1 billion over a five-year period. I think that if we provide school lunch and give that school system the flexibility that they need in terms of service times and of spacings that local program staff can get that job done.


Mr. Martinez. Yes, I agree with you. I think we just have to have the resolve to do it.


Mr. Cooney. Yes, sir.


Mr. Martinez. Right now I'm not sure that we have unanimous consent that there will be the resolve to do it. I hope that will change and I hope we do end up with the resolve to do it.


Mr. Cooney. Thank you.


Mr. Martinez. I did want to ask Mr. Robinson a question on the reason for plate waste. Is part of that reason that children do not have time to eat it?


Mr. Robinson. The cafeteria managers that we had surveyed suggested that the primary reasons were non-food related reasons. In other words, they wanted to get to recess, or they wanted to get playing with their friends, or whatever. That was one of the principle causes of higher rates of plate waste.


Mr. Martinez. So they actually didn't have enough time set aside so they could do the other activities?


Mr. Robinson. Or the kids were oriented in their minds to getting to other activities.


Mr. Martinez. So that's a case of management?


Mr. Robinson. Or a case of kids being kids.


Mr. Martinez. Well you have to set down some discipline for the children.


Mr. Robinson. Yes, yes, yes.


Mr. Martinez. Thank you.


Mr. Robinson. Okay.


Mr. Castle. Thank you very much, Mr. Martinez.

Before we go forward, we've been joined by Shirley Watkins who is the Under Secretary at Agriculture for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, and she had to be elsewhere on the Hill earlier this morning. I wasn't sure if she would be able to get here, but we're delighted to have you here. And Mr. Kildee is next, but if you wish to walk in here and say something first, we'd love to hear from you and then we'll go to Mr. Kildee.


Ms. Watkins. Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for letting me come in and join you this morning. And I'll be glad to sit here and listen to the rest of the hearing. Thank you.


Mr. Castle. Okay, thank you. We appreciate your being here.

Mr. Kildee?


Mr. Kildee. Thank you, Governor--Chairman. I've known Ed Cooney in two of his incarnations.


And I've known George Braley in his one incarnation since I've been in Congress for 22 years, and it's good to have both of you testifying before the committee today. I was tempted to ask Mr. DeBurgh whether that salsa is considered a vegetable or not.



Mr. DeBurgh. Which one?


Mr. Kildee. We had that fight I think early in the Reagan administration. Let me address this to Mr. Cooney, the Administration's Fiscal Year 1999 budget contains no child nutrition proposals, and in almost all respects calls for current service funding, allowing for inflation and enrollment changes. You have stated that there is no expansion of the Breakfast Program because you could not find an offset for that expansion. Is that offset required by law or by policy?


Mr. Cooney. Any bill that goes to the floor that does not have a budget assumption attached to an entitlement program is subject to a point of order, and therefore would jeopardize the passage of the bill. So anything that--anytime you do make a change in an entitlement program, you are required to an offset. Yes, it is, it is part of the Budget Empowerment Control Act of 1974.


Mr. Kildee. So it is by law and not by policy of the Administration. If that were not the case, do you think that the Administration would be calling for expansion of the Breakfast Program?


Mr. Cooney. Good question.



Mr. Kildee. I've been leading up to this.



Mr. Cooney. Well, let's just say for the record, we think the Breakfast Program is extremely important. We are well-knowledgeable about the studies that have been done, the recent one from Harvard and the one from Minnesota that was referred to earlier. Your efforts and Ms. Woolsey's efforts on behalf of school children are renown. We had made some progress in the School Breakfast Program. We have basically gone from a very small program and tripled the participation over the last 10 years. We've had some nice bipartisan support, the Bush budget had money in there for start-up funds for School Breakfast, as have the Clinton budgets and so forth.

So we're making progress in that, but the thing that's the difference between I think the activities that are going there and the bill that you're referring to is that, no one has quite figured out a way to remove stigma from this program. So poor kids, you know, that are participating are stigmatized in some, some circumstances. If you go to the Congressional Budget Office and ask them to give you a CBO cost-estimate on ``stigma,'' and they say, ``huh?''--you know, but they'll give you a CBO cost-estimate on your tanks or your planes and so forth. I guess that's a long way around to saying that we don't have, I don't have policy clearance to answer questions on hypotheticals but we do enjoy the interchange, and we do support the School Breakfast Program.


Mr. Kildee. I'll meet you for breakfast some morning and we can discuss this.



Mr. Cooney. Okay.


Mr. Kildee. Thank you very much.


Mr. Castle. You can get a free congressional breakfast up here.


Mr. Scott?


Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Cooney, you've indicated that the bill will contain full funding for WIC. What portion of the WIC-eligible citizens are presently covered, and how many will be covered under, quote, ``full-funding?''


Mr. Cooney. I think if you look at the number of estimates for participants that are fully eligible, and by that I mean, they meet the income test and they are nutritionally at risk, there are about 9 million such people. We anticipate serving at full funding about 7.5 million. It's reasonable to assume although I think our earlier assumptions were not, didn't turn out to be accurate. But if you look at food stamps and look at AFDC, about 90 percent of the people that are eligible participate. We used to think that full funding of WIC would be somewhere around 80 percent. Some people are eligible by income and nutritional risk but don't show up. It may be amazing to know that there are other things going on in their life, and difficulties. So we think that full funding is at 7.5 million people on a monthly basis.


Mr. Scott. Is there any outreach to try to get people in?


Mr. Cooney. Yes, there is. We just got criticized by the House Appropriations committee for our rather successful outreach efforts in that arena. ``We,'' I mean the National Association of WIC Directors working in concert with USDA. There are some very innovative programs, some of the best are in Texas, Virginia does some nice work in this arena, too.


Mr. Scott. But your estimate is that there are about 9 million people eligible?


Mr. Cooney. By income and nutritional risk. So they would be fully eligible and we plan on serving about 7.5 million because that's the way life is, not everybody shows up despite what Woody Allen says.


Mr. Scott. Now Ms. Turner and Mr. Murphy made statements that indicate that these programs lead to improvement in attendance, behavior and test scores. Is there anyone on the panel that has evidence that that's not true? Okay.

When you get to the cost of meals, as opposed to reimbursement, can somebody--I don't know whether this is GAO or what, the cost of the meals versus reimbursement, how much of the cost of the meal--I assume the cost of the meals varies from place to place, what portion of the cost of the meals is actually covered by the reimbursement rate?


Mr. Robinson. The reimbursement rate is either the flat rate set or the actual costs, so it is--


Mr. Scott. Whichever is--


Mr. Robinson. Whichever is less.


Mr. Scott. Okay.


Mr. Robinson. And it's certainly true that in rural areas typically the rate is adjusted, at least the administration part of the rate is adjusted to cover the higher cost of dealing with travel costs and the like.


Mr. Scott. Do most of the sponsors get all of their costs recovered?


Mr. Robinson. I would presume very close.


Mr. Scott. Most do?


Mr. Robinson. Yes.


Mr. Scott. Now the cutback in reimbursement, I think we've seen a few sponsors drop-out--


Mr. Robinson. Yes, sir.


Mr. Scott. And a few, I think the suggestion was they're hanging in to see what's going to happen. Are you having problems recruiting additional sponsors because of the cutbacks?


Mr. Robinson. The actual numbers of--the total number--between 1996 and 1997--the total number of sponsors actually went up because of the losses, the attritions were more than made up by the results of outreach and the accessions that resulted so it went up by about 180, something like in total. Actually, the total number of sponsors went up, the total number of kids went up but the total number of sites actually went down, you know, reflecting the fact that some sponsors closed down their higher cost sites where they couldn't make ends meet.


Mr. Scott. Okay. Someone mentioned the After-School Program and the desire to serve food, what would be anticipated to be served at the after-school programs. I forgot who mentioned that. Pointing out that obviously you'll attract more participation if you're serving something. What are you anticipating serving?


Mr. Cooney. In the Administration's proposal we are recommending that a snack be served.


Mr. Scott. But it's not green?


Mr. Cooney. You'd have some sort of fruit, vegetable, milk or bread component, and that would constitute a snack.


Mr. Scott. On WIC, I know when I was in the State legislature, we had a problem with the inability of the State to carry money over from one year to the other, and we were not spending the full amount because they didn't want to go under. What is the present situation with that program?


Mr. Cooney. I think, I can't remember the exact figure, but I think it's like in the neighborhood of $150 million is carried over in our proposal--


Mr. Scott. Is carried over?


Mr. Cooney. Yes.


Mr. Scott. In the budget--


Mr. Cooney. From year to year.


Mr. Scott. What about state by state? Do the states who don't fully spend lose the money?


Mr. Cooney. That money gets returned and reallocated.


Mr. Robinson.Mr. Scott, I might also mention that we've done a study on the reasons why states don't spend all the money that they're provided, and the answer is that there's a variety of reasons, some structural associated with the nature of the program, others very situation is unique where one state might close down a site, or close down a computer program, not as able to attract as many people as they thought they would. So there are a variety of reasons why states don't spend all the money that they are allocated.


Mr. Scott. Is there a state match--there's not a state match on the WIC funding?


Mr. Cooney. No.


Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Mr. Castle. Thank you Mr. Scott, and next a woman we've heard about before here from some of our witnesses, Ms. Woolsey.


Ms. Woolsey.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for letting me be part of this. I'm part of the full committee, but I am not a member of this subcommittee, and I very much appreciate your letting me be here.

I also want to thank the PTA--National PTA Association and the food service providers and all of you who have talked positively about H.R. 3086 and school breakfast and snacks.

It's clear that when we feed children--well no, it's clear that ``children who are hungry can't learn.'' And it has been proven that it is the time between the school bell and the dinner bell, that teenager’s get into trouble, that's the highest crime rate for teens and the highest rate for pregnancy occurs during that period of time each day. So anything we can do to keep kids involved and busy, we're doing everybody a great favor.

I raised four children, one all-American football player, believe me I know, kids eat.


And they are hungry and after school is a huge important time in their life and eating is quite often the number one thing on their minds.

Now Ed Cooney, welcome. As a management person I always knew and so did the people I worked with, is if you had challengers to your system and people with great ideas, it was better to bring them on as part of the team than to leave them on the outside challenging you everyday of the week.


Our administration has been extremely bright in bringing you on as a member of the team, but I'm missing your voice on the other side of the arguments also. So I'm counting on you being with us to talk objectively about a lot of what we're recommending here.

I'm a member of the Budget Committee besides this committee, I know the restrictions and the challenges we're up against as far as paying for a program that makes as much sense as school breakfast does for all elementary children. But I also know that we have to find a way to measure how much we save by preparing our children to learn when they enter the classroom, by having a workforce that is competitive by the time these children finish school. We have to be able to measure crime versus having kids fed, so that they're able to learn and that they're happy to be in a situation in preventing pregnancy. Health care was brought up also.

I'd like to ask any of you, particularly you, I suppose, Ed, if there's been a measure of the cost savings for paperwork simplification and providing flexibility. I mean, that would save money in these programs. How can that be used as an offset?


Mr. Cooney. I'm not aware of any specific proposal on that. I think Ms. Benjamin has made that point, as have others on the panel, that if you reduce paperwork, you can save money, but I'm not aware of the CBO cost estimate overall on that particular program. We are aware that child nutrition programs do have a burdensome paperwork effort, and part of that, though, is generated by other needs of this committee to ensure, and the Inspector General, that program integrity needs are met. We have to walk this delicate path, so that the average taxpayer is kind of keen on making sure the program works, and so we have to have certain rules and regulations to make it work. Mr. DeBurgh has alerted us, once again, that we have too many of those and that we need to get rid of them, and you think we can save some money on that. We would agree with that, but we don't have a CBO cost estimate on it. It might be worthy of doing in the process of this reauthorization bill.


Ms. Woolsey. Thank you. I think we need to do that, and that should be something this committee does. We also need to make sure, from this committee, to let Ways and Means know that, when we have a surplus and we know what it is, that that surplus is not to be reserved for tax breaks. There can be some, of course, but our children have to come before tax breaks for the wealthiest of the wealthy.

With a surplus, the PAY-GO, pay-as-you-go rules are going to be kicked around and loosely interpreted, believe me. We have to make sure that our children benefit from this surplus when we know what it is, and when we know that we have it.

So, Secretary Glickman, I understand, is supportive of these ideas of school breakfasts and snacks, and I know the offsets would get in the way. Senator Tim Johnson has a companion bill to this. I would hope that we would all work together, because the most important investment we have in this country is our children, and it's so basic; feeding them makes all the difference in the world.

Thank you.


Mr. Castle. Thank you, Ms. Woolsey. Mr. Payne?


Mr. Payne. Thank you very much. I, of course, missed most of the testimony.

I've been trying to go through the material here, but I do have a question that has been bothering me, and I might ask, let's see, Mr. Cooney--there is the question about the peanut subsidy. According to some material that I have, the U.S. Department of Agriculture purchases peanuts and peanut products for distribution, and it goes on to say that, unfortunately, such peanuts must be purchased at a price that is almost twice the world market price. The forced purchase of quota peanuts is a particularly onerous requirement, given the fact that foreign buyers can buy U.S.-produced peanuts for half the price of what USDA pays for peanuts that are distributed to needy recipients, low-income children, and so forth. I understand that it's about $14.4 million that we pay for so-called quota peanuts. To me, the government is paying twice as much as someone in another part of the world could pay for these peanuts. My question is, perhaps it could be distributed better among the needy, rather than to pay quota price. Could you explain that to me?


Mr. Robinson. Mr. Payne, a year or so ago, I had one very long day at the House Agriculture Committee testifying on our report on the peanuts subsidy--


Mr. Payne. So I guess it's changed.


Mr. Robinson. --recommending its demise. That, of course, has not happened. There has been a slight reduction in the quota support price, but the price is still much higher, owing largely to the production controls that you mentioned. You can't grow peanuts for sale in this country unless you are provided, essentially, a government permit to do so, which means that the peanuts bought in this country are much more expensive than they could be purchased on the world markets. The same is also true, I might add, for sugar. And if I'm going to dig deep, I might as well just keep on digging.


Again, the controls on sugar also generate a much higher price in the U.S. than in world prices. So if you combine sugar and peanuts, you get peanut butter, and there you have a combined effect in place.


Mr. Payne. It really doesn't make sense. I don't know--listen, you guys charge us twice as much for peanuts and sugar, and then kill the other people with the tobacco you grow.



Mr. Scott. Mr. Chairman?


Mr. Payne. And I just don't understand--


Mr. Scott. Mr. Chairman, would the gentleman yield? I mean, he's picked on peanuts from Suffolk and now he's going to tobacco from the south side of Virginia.



Mr. Payne. But I think we ought to--as we have ended the program--what was it, ADC, Aid to Dependent Children--we ought to also end the program of ``ADF,'' ``Aid to Dependent Farmers.'' If we're going to make people go from welfare to work, we ought to take these very wealthy farmers, agri-farmers off of public assistance also. It doesn't make sense. Two years and out; that's what it is for a lady with a child. Let's have two years and out. We're going on our second year.

It seems to me that this is really an abuse, and I don't understand why it can't--and I'm sure that you advocate our position the way that you sound here, but it's certainly beyond your jurisdiction, and it's a problem of the Congress, I suppose, of my colleagues. I would wish that the chairman of the committee would let this be known to the proper committees; they are in control at this time, and perhaps this could be brought forth. It does make sense. Although I've made folly of it, I think it's really an affront. It's wrong. It's abuse of taxpayers' money, and it does not make sense.

As I indicated, on this one item alone, we could save $14.4 million, and--


Mr. Robinson. Well--


Mr. Payne. Yes, go ahead.


Mr. Robinson. The GAO has long advocated movement of agricultural programs away from a government-based program to a market-based program, and our recommendations relative to the peanut and sugar programs have been consistent with those other recommendations. Obviously, with Freedom to Farm, the movement toward market forces is in place for most of the agricultural crops. It is less so with peanuts and sugar.

I might mention, with respect to sugar, since I'm about ready to be buried--[Laughter]--the final shovel full will come from my own mouth. We did estimate that the Federal sugar program costs the government, in their purchases of products, food products, $90 million a year. That is the government's share of the $1.4 billion annual cost to consumers. We have not made a comparable estimate for peanuts.


Mr. Payne. Thank you very much. As I've indicated, I think that we've passed the stage where we can continue to afford these giveaways. I've never understood the Soil Bank Program, because the more money you had, the more property you could buy, and then the government would pay you for not growing on that property. So the more income you got, the more you bought; the more you got subsidized for doing nothing. It's something--it's an idea whose time has certainly passed.

Although I'm not on the Agriculture Committee or in the areas, when we are dropping subsidies, as I indicated, if we're putting people from welfare to work--and I'm not making any comment on it; that's the way of the land today--we need to also take dependent farmers away from subsidies and let the market price fall where it may. I thought GATT talks and world trade was going to do that, but, evidently, it's done it for everything except--was it peanuts and sugar?

All right, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'll yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. Castle. Thank you very much, Mr. Payne.

We've completed the panel here. What I would like to do is to allow a few more questions, no more than five minutes, by the members who wish to ask questions. A lot of members have other responsibilities. All this should not take more than about 20 minutes. We should be done by 12:30, for those of you who are worried about airplanes and things of that nature. If you have to go, we understand that, too.

I will start it off. I want to ask Ms. Watkins a question, who's handicapped because she came in after some of the earlier testimony. But Mr. DeBurgh mentioned earlier the any reasonable approach legislation with which you're probably familiar, and Mr. Cooney, anticipating that we would be asking about the regulations on that, indicated they are forthcoming very soon, and sometime, hopefully, sooner rather than later.

My question is, to the extent that you can answer this, to the extent that you know, also, about these regulations--whether or not they are going to follow the congressional intent and allow school districts to determine the approach they will use as long as they meet the dietary guidelines. That seems to be what the purpose of all this is.


Ms. Watkins. Mr. Chairman, obviously, we want to make the programs easy for school nutrition personnel to operate. Any approach that the schools choose, we certainly will allow that. Our major expectation and outcome is that we meet the dietary guidelines, and obviously, we're going to Congress' intent, and we are going to allow them to use any reasonable approach. I feel very strongly about that. I think people ought to reach the end goal, and that is, that every child in this country is meeting and getting a part of a nutritious diet during the day. If we meet those dietary guidelines, we think we've been successful.


Mr. Castle. Thank you.

Ms. Holmes Benjamin, I'm going to ask you a question; I'm going to ask for a brief answer. Unfortunately, it's sort of a complicated subject matter, but that is the cost of implementing the Oregon proposal, the seamless Flex proposal. It sounds very interesting, and without going through all the details of it, is this something that appears to be costing more money or less money and efficiency? Or how would you estimate it from a cost point of view?


Ms. Holmes Benjamin. We think it would be cost-neutral, as best as we can cost it out. What we have talked about is actually I think paraphrased very nicely or stated very nicely in the National School Lunch Act, and in talking about pilot programs it used the phrase ``adjusted for inflation and fluctuations in employment,'' you would get the Federal reimbursement that you had the prior year. We are really quite sure that, with that, we could do this child nutrition initiative, and we would like the opportunity to do it for a year. We actually would like a five-year demonstration, and with the understanding that the demonstration would need to terminate if we couldn't manage it properly.


Mr. Castle. Thank you.

I'm going to ask a general question, which is always dangerous with a big panel. But I'm still interested in the universal breakfast program, and maybe I don't specifically understand what is being recommended when one says they want universal breakfast. Does that mean universal to all schools? Does it mean that the Federal Government would subsidize for everybody at the same level, be you a millionaire or somebody who obviously has lower-income concerns? And is this something we really have to do?

In other words, I think all of us here, and I think the particular legislators you have up here, care a great deal about nutrition for students, and we don't want to deprive anybody. But, on the other hand, when we start talking about universal, I always get a little anxious--are we going overboard in terms of going further than we have to go? I mean, if there is a stigma, I understand that you can work out card systems, so that nobody would even know whether there has been a subsidy put into that system or not. For instance, some kids just are not going to eat. Others want to eat breakfast at home; a lot may not.

But I understand the cost of all this is in the range of 30 cents subsidized to about $1.25 not subsidized. Obviously, $1.25 won't break a wealthier family. Probably a lot of them would be more than willing to pay that, not to have to bother with breakfast; others might not.

But my concern is, what are we talking about here, and do we really have to go to universals or should we be looking at something in between, or are we just going too far? And I'm not saying that because any of us want to slight kids in terms of nutrition. I just don't want to overdo something from a governmental point of view, and it's an open-ended question.

So, Mr. DeBurgh?


Mr. DeBurgh. Breakfast is easily the most nutritionally valuable meal of the day for a school child, but I disagree that the issue is having a free child feel as though they're being overtly identified. In schools that are completely free, there are--you know, an option 2 or 3 school--less than half the students will eat breakfast that eat lunch. The issue is, when is the meal going to be consumed? Children are like their parents; they won't--you know, I saw it done on TV where a person turned around behind him and said, ``How many of you have a computer that operates under a certain system? How many people behind me eat breakfast before they go to work five days a week?'' The issue is, when is the meal going to be consumed?

In Glendale, we have a breakfast for 75 cents that also includes 45 minutes of child care. That is an extremely popular program, and it's more popular in neighborhoods where there are two working parents than it is in an area that is extremely needy. I just think that breakfast is important, and maybe there is a way to do an approach that includes, as a local option, an opportunity to provide breakfast as part of the schoolday, if the educational system and the principal will allow it. And if they do, I think you'll find, according to the studies, that it does provide for a better education.


Mr. Castle. Would anyone else like to comment on that? Yes, Ms.--


Ms. Holmes Benjamin. I would like to say it would be helpful, I think, if schools had greater flexibility. I know this is my song-and-dance act, but what we're proposing in the Oregon proposal is that you have a two-hour space between meals, and you really allow the local school to have a lot of discretion on whether they feed--when and where they feed these children. The quality of the food I think is very important. The timing matters to kids, and we all have grandchildren who will eat only so much and not something else.


Mr. Castle. Thank you. Ms. Cox?


Ms. Cox. We believe that the benefits far outweigh whatever the potential is for people taking advantage of the program, and agree that certainly the time of day--as long as the kids get the nutrition, it's really an education issue. It's not a welfare-type issue, and that is our point.

We strongly believe that not everyone who is eligible will take advantage of it, and that the funding is not necessarily going to match the cost that might be necessary to meet the needs of all the people who are eligible.


Mr. Castle. And, Ms. Turner, you will be the final person to speak on this issue, at this moment at least.


Ms. Turner. Well, I would just say that while ASFSA enthusiastically supports Congresswoman Woolsey's legislation, I would just say that we are eager to work with this committee and Congress and the administration to expand the School Breakfast Program because more and more research indicates how critical it is that those students are prepared to learn and enter the classroom ready to learn. We just look forward to working with you in moving this forward, the expansion of school breakfast.


Mr. Castle. Thank you. We appreciate all those answers. We'll take them under advisement.


Mr. Martinez?


Mr. Martinez. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

For the sake of Lynn Woolsey's bill, let's define universal breakfast and what she intends it to cover – only elementary schools.

Next, I want to get into the question of the salsa, since I'm a salsa expert.


I grew up on it.

And I'd like to ask the Department--you weren't here for Mr. DeBurgh's demonstration, but he has two cups of salsa there. One is manufactured and the other is made in a school kitchen. One is allowable and one is not allowable.

And I'm getting into this because Mr. Payne opened Pandora's box. As I understand it, under the nutrition program--correct me where I'm wrong--that 15 cents of every meal schools are allowed for commodities. Is that right?


Mr. DeBurgh. Roughly.


Mr. Martinez. Okay. Then I'd like to ask Mr. DeBurgh, which is cheaper in cost, the manufactured or the kitchen-made salsa?


Mr. DeBurgh. It would depend on which commodities were available to make it. If I had commodity tomatoes available, the cost would go down. The cost is not necessarily more making it in the kitchen or buying it from the manufacturer. The issue is the nutrients are the same; it ought to count the same.


Mr. Martinez. Yes, but when you're talking about programs that are subsidized by the Federal Government, you've got to always keep cost in mind. As Mr. Payne said, this is a farmer’s welfare program. I know there are a lot of people in Congress who have large agricultural districts who want to see the commodities used because that's of benefit to them. Since we only allow 15 cents per every meal served for commodities, that's not a lot of money to play with.

But my concern is, like yours, what's the difference? They're both the same thing, except one is kitchen-made and one is manufactured. Now if the local school wants to buy it rather than take the time to make it, it may be more costly than if they just buy it, depending on what price they buy it at.


Mr. DeBurgh. You are absolutely correct, Mr. Martinez. And even in my own district, I don't have the capacity to make enough salsa to serve it on a day that I want to count it as a fruit-vegetable. I would have to buy it from a commercial manufacturer.


Mr. Martinez. Can you answer me why we have that difference?


Ms. Watkins. Congressman, this happens to me every day that I am in Ed's presence. To listen to him and be around him all day is quite a wonderful opportunity, but he almost made me laugh, and I am trying not to do that right now.

Looking at the salsa situation, that is something I am going to have to take a serious look at and the difference. We are working now, and the staff is working to bring some information to me on that, but, obviously, it's going to take a lot of thinking as to why we would choose one versus the other, and we need to look at it from the standpoint of: What is more cost-effective? If there is a difference in the nutritional content of the product--and we're going to look at all of those issues before we make a final decision.


Mr. Martinez. Yes, we have some history here. Some may remember when we got into this big argument about whether ketchup substituted as a vegetable or not--[Laughter.]-- there were people that felt that, hey, ketchup is made of tomatoes; it's a vegetable. Still other people felt that it’s not really a vegetable, based on their estimation of the nutritional value of ketchup.

But here it's a little different. If the same ingredients go into making salsa--and there are a lot of different recipes for salsa, but most have the same ingredients.


Ms. Watkins. And that's the reason why I said we need to look at that very carefully, and I want to make certain that we're making the right decision, as we move forward with this. Ed and the rest of the staff and I will look at that very carefully, and make certain that salsa is a salsa is a salsa.


Mr. Martinez. Thank you.

Mr. Robinson, you mentioned in your testimony about expansion grants, and that they weren't used very much. While I feel strongly about them, I'm wondering if part of the reason that they weren't used is because of burdensome paperwork?


Mr. Robinson. In our surveys and conversations, that is the reason. I know my staff just pointed out an anecdote that one of the respondents said, ``Maybe this paperwork could be solved if USDA would send along a lawyer to interpret the instructions on how to fill out the paperwork. Then I might be more interested.'' But it's that kind of burden that the folks were reporting to us, yes, sir.


Mr. Martinez. And that's the kind of thing that we've got to try to eliminate.


Mr. Robinson. And these are things that seem to be relatively--of all the world's problems, these seem to be relatively more solvable than peanut subsidies.



Mr. Martinez. Thank you. I see my time has run out again.


Mr. Castle. Thank you, Mr. Martinez. Mr. Scott?


Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I've heard the term ``walk-through breakfast.'' When we're talking about school breakfast, does everyone have the same meal? I mean, is everybody talking about the same thing when we talk about school breakfast?


Mr. Murphy. Mr. Scott, in the one example that I was referring to there's a high school that has set up where the children, on their way to class, in between classes, are able to be served a breakfast that--


Mr. Scott. What does breakfast mean?


Mr. Murphy. It could be--


Mr. Scott. What do they get to eat?


Mr. Murphy. It would vary on a daily basis as to what is on the menu, whether it's a sausage biscuit or if it's another traditional breakfast item or if it's a burrito, whatever. I mean, we try to provide a lot of flexibility and choice to the students, so that they will, in fact, have their breakfast. It would meet the reimbursable definition for the program regulations.


Mr. Scott. For a school breakfast, is there a nutritional minimum like there is with school lunch?


Mr. Murphy. Yes, sir.


Mr. Scott. A nutritional minimum that the meal would have to come up to?


Mr. Murphy. Yes, sir.


Mr. Scott. The extra cost of going from an eligibility to universal, how much of that extra cost would be absorbed by the reduced paperwork and enforcement and eligibility determination? Would all that reduction in paperwork and confusion pay for the extra cost in making it universal?


Mr. DeBurgh. Unfortunately, much of the paperwork would remain because eligibility would still need to be established for lunch. So the paperwork that was involved in determining eligibility, even though it wasn't used at breakfast, would still be required at lunch, sir.


Mr. Scott. Okay. Is that the general consensus, that there would be very little paperwork reduction if we made it universal?


Ms. Holmes Benjamin. What we had proposed, if I may respond, is that there be one definition of eligibility, and once a family is eligible, the family is eligible, and it doesn't matter whether the child or children or having breakfast, lunch, or a snack, or an after-meal, or whatever. The kid's eligible.

I mean, one of the problems--and I would like to say in the defense of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and I have never worked for the United States Department of Agriculture, that this is a problem that has been compounded over the years because the Congress has enacted separate pieces of legislation with different rules, and they've been enacted at different times; the regs. pile up. So it's really quite a problem. That's the issue, and that's why we want this demonstration program. We think if two or three states had the opportunity to demonstrate how to do a program, a seamless program, which I think is the goal of Ms. Watkins and the Department of Agriculture, ultimately, that would give us a real opportunity to see whether it could be done properly, so that children would be fed, so that they would get--we would allow the local school district to make the decision about the salsa and when the breakfast was served.


Mr. Scott. Let me ask one other question. Mr. Robinson or Mr. Cooney, on the number of sponsors that dropped out, was there a difference between urban, rural, and suburban? Was there any higher burden?


Mr. Robinson. As I tried to make clear in my testimony, I was giving you preliminary results. We haven't broken that down all by exact category as yet, but in the final report, which will cover two years, we will have that kind of information. Unfortunately, we don't have it for you today, but, again, the number was 22 sponsors--so it wasn't a huge number--across 10 different states. I can tell you that much. I just don't know the demographic nature of it.


Mr. Scott. And as far as the other issue that was concerned about our good peanuts in Virginia, I think the Agriculture Committee is doing a good job in working through this issue, and we should just leave it right where it is.


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Mr. Castle. I suppose all this is debatable, but we'll let it go for now.



Mr. Payne?


Mr. Payne. Let me ask you, Mr. Murphy, the Welfare Reform Act eliminated grants to states for initiating or expanding breakfast in summer food programs. In your estimation, to what extent did these eliminations have an impact on the school breakfast and summer food programs in your State of North Carolina?


Mr. Murphy. I could speak more directly to the School Breakfast Program than I can the Summer Food, since that is another department at this point. But on the School Breakfast Program, I think it had a negative impact because the funds were not there to purchase perhaps some additional equipment that may have been needed for a particular system to implement a program or to expand.

However, there have been a number of school systems in our State that have overcome those lack of funds, just though shear determination, in order to get programs initiated. One county, Franklin County, has a universal school breakfast program that is serving a larger number of children, and they're seeing an increase in their participation, of course, and in their test scores and in their schools.

So, yes, the expansion grants are very helpful, particularly in the area of purchasing equipment. That's an area that we have as a general need within the total Child Nutrition Program, is the ability to purchase current technology in order to implement new types of meal programs.


Mr. Payne. Let me just ask another question regarding the same matter. Even prior to the enactment of the so-called Welfare Reform Act, school breakfast programs seemed to lag in a lot of areas. And this might be for anyone on the panel.

I guess school lunches has been a traditional thing, many years; it wasn't new. The school had a cafeteria, and they had warm lunches, and so forth. But the notion of school breakfasts seemed to have lagged tremendously behind school lunch programs, when all nutritionists indicate that breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day.

Would anyone like to respond to why--unless I'm incorrect; then you can tell me; my opponents usually tell me I am all the time. But if it is a fact that school breakfast programs are more difficult, have been more difficult, and just what might be the reasons for that--that's for anyone on the panel.


Ms. Turner. Congressman Payne, I think what Mr. Murphy said earlier about some of the obstacles and challenges that we have as local operators in administering a breakfast program is bus scheduling, finding that time for the students to eat. And as more and more research is completed and made the awareness to our school administrators, they're realizing the importance of school breakfast. There's a more cooperative nature between the food service operator and the school administrators, because, as in Kentucky, when now test scores--the teachers' salaries are dependent on how well their students perform on tests. We now have teachers buying breakfast for students on days they're taking tests. So if it's important on that day, it's important every day, and there's a more cooperative relationship there between school principals to make time for school breakfast, to work with their schedule, to have a break, perhaps breakfast after maybe the first class in the morning, where you have this grab-and-go-type breakfast, quick sandwich-type items or cereals or pastries or a variety of breakfast items that can meet the needs of these students, that they can easily pick up and eat on their way to their next class.

So we've been able to overcome some of those obstacles, but there are lots of problems out there that we have to be creative in how we can overcome those challenges and turn those into opportunities to really meet the needs of all our students.


Mr. Payne. Thank you. Thank you very much.


Mr. Castle. Thank you, Mr. Payne.

That will bring to a close our formal hearing today. I have on the schedule here that staff has helped me with that is of importance to all of you, and then one question I'd like to put on the table.

The question I'm not going to ask, because I don't want to go through another round of questioning here, is: Are there other barriers to utilization of the School Breakfast Program we could address, assuming we don't do universal school breakfast or, for that matter, any of these programs?

And I tell you this because we have heard from the Administration today that we expect to see their legislation probably this afternoon. We hope to mark this up at subcommittee on March 25 and in the full committee on April 1. That schedule obviously assumes bipartisan cooperation, which we anticipate being able achieve for these particular programs. So we're on, obviously, particularly for Congress, a real tight timetable in terms of getting this done. I say that to you because I know some of you represent different organizations; you may have different ideas or concepts you may want to get into us. You should do that quickly. Don't wait for your next monthly meeting or it may be too late in terms of what is going on.

The various members may have questions they want to send to you--if you'd be kind enough to try to answer them or perhaps be available for other questions.

And with that, I want to thank you all very much, particularly those of you who have come from afar to be here, and taken your personal time to be here, for attending and for participating, and for helping add to the information and knowledge which we have on what is obviously a very important program to everybody and for all the members who are participating.

With that, we stand adjourned.

[Whereupon, at 12:34 p.m., the subcommittee adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.]