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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  June 19, 2015 3:00am-5:00am EDT

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how do we -- how can we go forward to expand greater access to children and families? >> i think one of the focuses we've had is during the summer months. obviously i think as has been stated earlier, children receive somewhere between a third and two-thirds of their calories at school. we are in the process of trying to figure out how to deal with those gaps. i'm proud of the fact we're serving 23 million more summer meals than we did several years ago but there's still work to be done because only 16% of kids who are eligible for summer meals are participating. so we're looking at several things. one, we're looking at obviously greater partnerships. i was in baltimore yesterday at a library encouraging libraries to potentially look at sites where kids are spending a lot of time during summer months. we're making sure we reach out to schools and take a look at whether or not they might be willing to participate in the seamless school project which allows schools to essentially
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provide schools throughout summer months. we're continuing to look for ways in which we can encourage service torsion participate. so there's a significant effort relating to summer feeding, which i think will go a long way to addressing some of the concerns that you've outlined. the community eligibility and direct certification efforts also will make sure kids currently not getting served in school distributes because parents don't get the application in, or for whatever reason, those kids will also be served. so we strongly encourage continuation of those programs and expansion of those programs. >> we received examples and evidence of this hearing and other hearings about the abuse of wic lack of choices, why some schools drop out. i appreciate the fact you
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reference those examples with studies. >> just to be clear about this, since 2013, when we fully implemented these standards, 58 schools out of 99,000 schools have dropped out of the program. 58 out of 99000 plus. some of the schools dropped out, an article yesterday, some of the more high-profile schools profiled in time magazine at the beginning of this process that dropped out are now coming back in because they realized that they weren't going to save money. they realized the program was actually something that would benefit kids. so we believe there is significant clients here, and we believe with the flexibility provided and resources and the assistance, the equipment grants, the smarter lunch room grants where we're encourageing creatively how to display and serve food. team up for success that the chair and ranking member mentioned which allows us have
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struggling schools team up with member schools. all this will provide assistance and help and we think it's making a difference. >> there's a system of budgeting -- dynamic scoring. as such, it never includes savings. i wish now with this new system we would include savings. my question to you, nutrition, preparedness for learning, health, all our investments in these babies and kids received the programs and qualified for it in anticipation, what are we looking at for society and in terms of money as well. >> i apologize. i should have this number off the top of my head. there has been a study of the wic program in terms of its potential impact on children women and infants and it
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indeed focuses and recognizes with improve immunization, improved and healthier births we are, indeed, saving money. to the extent we get a handle on the obesity issue as we discussed earlier, that also will help provide savings. at the end of the day this is ultimately about making sure youngsters are in the best position to be as productive as they want to be and can be. the reality is if you're hungry or concerned about your self-image in school, you're going to have a hrder erharder time. that's one of the reasons we're making sure these standards are implemented properly and get access as they need. >> thank you, mr. chairman. yield back. >> thank you, gentlemen. mr. thomas, you are recognized. >> good to see you. i want to zero in on a certain initial question on a certain area of the standards within the healthy hunger-free kids act of 2010. it has to do with milk. i know you mentioned about
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academic professionals who are somehow responsible and behind the standards although as i recall, and from the process and also from the -- quite frankly my visits i spent a lot of time in school ate a lot of school lunches. it seems like our school nutrition professionals were largely ignored, and they have a lot of concerns. but my initial question i have for you has to do with the milk area. the to do reads only fat-free, unflavored or flavored or unflavored low fat fluid milk, 1% of milk or less is allowed. if truly those academic researchers who set that standard were spot on, we wouldn't be seeing since 2012 to 2014 schools serving 187 million
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fewer pints of milk despite the fact that population of schools going up. i'm not criticizing. given what we know about the nutritional value of milk which i think is significant, is cause for concern. to give schools more flexibility. the school nutrition act in conjunction with my colleague joe cortney, one of the bill's provisions will provide schools with the option of offering low fat, 1% flavored milk rather than only fat-free if milk contains no more than 150 calories per 8 ounce serving. obviously still concerned with overarching purpose of what the 2010 act was reportedly written in. i just want to check do you agree declining rates of milk consumption are cause for concern. do you believe usda should work with congress on milk and integral role in school meals.
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>> i see i'm going to get double teamed on this issue based on the lineup here. i've got to tell you, this is my personal view, i agree with you. i think if adding that option would encourage kids to drink more milk, we should do that. >> i think a little bit of flavor goes a long way. >> that's my personal preference. i honestly the challenge here, i think, is we've created so many options for kids today in terms of what they consume and, you know in terms of the nutritional bang for the buck, there's probably nothing better than a glass of milk. so i think there ought to be some way of working with your proposal or a similar proposal to provide a bit more flexibility and hopefully we would see more consumption of milk. >> why not stay with -- i'm going to milk this topic for all i can. switch over to a very important
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program that i personally, my wife and i when we were first starting out with our first child were eligible for the wic program, penny and parker were. a question regarding milk as a critical component of the wic food package. institute of medicine recommendations final rolished issued by usda placed restrictions on availability of 2% milk for children 2 or older. can you explain the basis for this new role and why it was finalized without allowing for a public comment period? >> well i think there was an extensive opportunity for comment on the wic rules over the course of several years. i think we believed we received all of the input we needed to make a determination. you know, in terms of the wic program, i think the goal here is to try to provide supplement and compliment what people are traditionally and normally
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purchasing. it isn't necessarily to be the be all and end all, it is a compliment and supplement. i think the development of the wic package to say people are buying this and this and this. what aren't they buying they might be able to benefit from and that's how the wic package put together. i suspect that's part of the reason. if there's a more technical reason for that congressman, i will get that to you. >> you mentioned about 3% is what you're allowed to survey or measure. a number you'd be looking for. you feel more confident in terms of looking for errors, if it's 3% now, what should it be? >> probably more consistent with every other program where we have greater flexibility to check. i don't think we definitely have a magic number. what we do know, the more we do of this, the greater accountability. in all probability we identify where the problem areas are. we can solve it. bring that error rate down, which you all agree is
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unacceptably high and you're absolutely right about that. >> thank you. >> gentleman's time is expired. with my dairy farmers smiling ever more brightly, i'll recognize mr. courtney. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. secretary, for your testimony and your leadership over the last 6 1/2 years, 8 1/2 years. the ranking member mentioned in his opening remarks interesting genesis of school lunch programs followed in the wake of world war ii and fast forwarding to the last reauthorization of 2010. as a member of this committee, i remember vividly some of the powerful testimony we had was from retired military leaders who, again were describing a totally different challenge that our country faces now in terms of military readiness. mission readiness, which you alluded to again as a group of 450 retired military leaders who just recently issued a report.
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reiterate the fact one out of four 17 to 24 years old are not fit to fight and one out of eight were actually serving are actually obese, diagnosed obese that's $1.5 billion in dod's budget alone dealing with that program. when they say retreat is not an option, they are talking about retreat with nutritional standards. i think that's important to make that point clear. i guess one question about compliance, 90%, less than 90%, gao, what's important and what your department has been trying to do starting with zero in 2010 when the president signed this bo law was to get the trend moving in the right direction. i guess the initiatives you described were moving in that direction. isn't that right? it's not like we plateaued or were sliding.
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the fact is people just sort of get more comfortable with the system and also that you accommodate reasonable requests that we're actually moving in the right direction. i guess that's the point i want to give you a chance to describe. >> well, change obviously is difficult. you're absolutely right. the mission readiness has been very, very focused on this for the reasons you articulated. there are, as has been discussed health care cost reasons academic achievement economic productivity reasons for doing this. you know i think i have some confidence in that level of compliance because we basically rely and trust on our state partners administering this program to give us the information from the individual school districts they receive. so you have to assume individual school systems are telling you the truth when they say we're complying with this and we qualify now for the additional reimbursement rate. and from a robert wood yon survey of parents, we find 80% of parents think this is a good
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approach. students by the same survey basically indicate acceptance of this. so i think we are headed in the right direction. it's going to take time. just as it took time in terms of addressing the issues of 1946, it's going to take time for the benefits of all this to be perceived in data, information but i have no doubt we're going to see a healthier generation of kids in this country and our country is going to be better off for it. >> thank you, mr. secretary. and so it's my intention to again, enter -- not an option, which lays out the case from distinguished military leaders. i also would be remiss if i didn't follow up with mr. thompson's point, actually the report, they note the fact the consumption of milk since 1970s for the average school child was about 250 calories back then. it has slid dramatically and sugary drinks have grown dramatically at the same time.
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so they have crossed. so kids are drinking more empty calorie drinks versus milk. i think that's frankly one of the reasons we're in the predict men we are right now. that's why mr. thompson's efforts, which, again, has bipartisan support. we obviously welcome good suggestions to accomplish its goal, will help achieve the result that again, these retired military leaders and yourself, now that you're on the record, will help us get -- to improve children's health and readiness to deal with all physical challenges as they enter adulthood. with that i yield back. mr. chairman ask this report be entered into the record. >> without objection. i would have been shocked if you had not brought up milk. glad to not be disappointed. we're keenly aware there's a microphone problem up here and scrambling to see if we can solve it. mr. salmon. >> thanks. last month the usda released its
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second access participation eligibility and certification study on measuring and reducing errors in the school meal programs. the department found a number of areas of fraud, waste and abuse within these programs. i have two questions regarding that. then my last question is regarding administration's recent decision on trans fats and how that's going to translate into the school lunch programs. the report cites improper payments being made in school lunch and breakfast programs. how prevalent and costly are these improper payments and what is usda doing to prevent these occurrences. that's my first question related to the study. during school year 2005, 2006 significant errors school service providersabilities to adequately verify whether a child was eligible for certain reimbursement categories. the most recent study states though some improvements have
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been made levels of program errors remain high. do what degree do errors affect overall integrity of the program and access to meals for those who truly need them truly need them when people shouldn't qualify are getting them and how much are these errors costing the taxpayer? what is food nutrition services doing to address these errors. finally, could you just address what kind of impact the trans fat decision by the administration will have on school meal programs? >> well we have -- we share the concern you have about program integrity which is why we have begun the process of professionalizing the standards of the folk that is are cashiers, making determinations as site on site. we know that's one of three mistake or problem areas. raising the standards and the understanding in the training for those individuals i think will help. we're also asking states to upgrade their training efforts as well. so that personnel in the schools do a better job.
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secondly, you know the use of community eligibility and direct certification, we know from the data and the review of statistics substantially reduces the errors you're concerned about. to the extent to continue to look for ways to encourage districts roughly 6,400 -- 6.4 million kids, probably another 14,000 schools to utilize community eligibility. they're unwilling or reluctant to do it because they've made the mathematical calculation they won't benefit financially or in all likelihood concerned about the impact of title i. that's dependent on the free and reduced lunch percentage of kids. if we can find a way to basically allow for some kind of mathematical formula to translate so you didn't actually need a specific count of free and reduced lunch kids for title i we would probably see more school districts. we have to make the application
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simpler. honestly, it's very complyicatecomplicated. if you have parents english is a second language type of thing we probably need to figure out ways to simplify the application to get the basic information. online application might also help so we're working on that. we have established an office of sbeg ri toy try to look at this. earlier i mentioned the need for an increased capacity of congress to review more schools. we currently are limited by congressional mandate to only review 3% of schools in terms of compliance. congressman thompson asked me if there's a number. my staff tells me 10% would be more accurate. more helpful to get up to 10% review. that would certainly send a message. folks would focus on the point of being accurate on all of this. data mining is is an opportunity to identify school districts that are having difficulties and maybe focus time and attention on those individual schools.
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there's a lot of activity going on in this space and i think we'll see significant reductions in those numbers over time. to the issue of trans fats it's not something i've had a chance to talk to our team about because, obviously the ruling came out from fda today but i did notice that 85% of food processors are well on the way. there's a three-year implementation time line. i wouldn't anticipate it creates serious and significant problems in relation to school lunch. >> do you think there's an onslaught of litigation of attorneys toward some of these food companies that have been using trans fats in the last several years and i mean, is that a possibility? >> want to make sure i understand your question. you mean people suing because of trans fats? >> well as a lawyer people can be pretty creative and look for
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opportunities, potentially. i don't think that there's -- i don't think you can discount that possibility. i would certainly hope that, you know honestly that we would be looking for ways in which to find consensus and not conflict on issues involving nutrition. i'm told the school meals and snacks are limited to zero grams of transfat. >> thank you. >> thank you. mr. polis. >> thank you. and thank you, mr. chairman. and mr. secretary, thank you for your testimony today. as well as the time you recently took to atravel to my district and hear from many of my constituents and possibility your work in the realm of child nutrition. passion and a cause i share with you and there's been a lot of discussion about this today. but i did want to bring other items to your attention, as well. specifically, i wanted to talk about the idea of establishing conservation compliance enforcement parameters around agricultural support programs funded by the federal
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government. as you know, this concept dates to the reagan administration. attempting to curb environmental concerns through limiting taxpayer support and subsidies can help make sure that we can address environmental impact and reduce exposure to taxpayers, specifically the conservation compliance enforcement program focuses on soil erosion, protecting producing food and don't do anything to increase short-term production at the risk of long term and preserving and protecting wetlands. what we saw, however, in a 1995 inspector general's report is 20% of growers who see large federal subsidies are simultaneously failing to comply with the conservation act. that's a lot of money to go to those causing damage to some of the most unique and fragile ecosystems. last year's farm bill, the conservation compliance language
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added back into the law for crop insurance subsidies but with the track record of 20% noncompliance, can usda better enforce this statistic. if there are plans to come up with new statistics with regard to noncompliance, and how you plan to use the tool of with holding subsidyies to ensure compliance. >> june 1 was an important date in terms of conservation compliance because on that date operators who did not have on file the ad-1026 form were required to do so. this is a new area. so we've made a concerted effort in terms of outreach to remind folks of that requirement and to also remind them of the consequence if they didn't file the 1026 form. they now have an opportunity and responsibility for developing and devising a plan.
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and for local and cs offices to ensure that those plans are followed. i can tell you that i'm very proud of the fact we have a record number of producers now enrolled in voluntarily conservation of one sort of another. well over 500,000 producers are participating in conservation. well over 400 million acres, which is a record, that number continues to rise and will no doubt continue to rise with the farm bill programs that we have including the original conservation partnership program. you know, we are looking for ways in which nrcs can provide more technical assistance more on the ground assistance and less paper shuffling so we just recently launched the nrcs gateway for operators to be able to access information online at their convenience without coming to an office. that should free up folks to do more technical assistance, more review, more compliance activities. i don't know that there is any more recent study on the issue
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that you've raised and certainly ask and get back to the office if there is and if there is we'll get it to you. >> it sounds like you're doing what you can through automation to free up staff time and resources to ensure that the program succeeds. >> would encourage you and your staff to take a look at the new gateway we launched. i think it is a great opportunity for saving time and effort. it compliments the work we are doing on the farm loan side with some of the automation taking place recently in terms of reporting. >> what about utilizing the tool of with holding subsidies for noncompliance? >> that is the ultimate responsibility or ultimate penalty if folks are not in compliance. that's the law. we'll follow the law. >> thank you. i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you. mr. rokita. >> thank you. mr. secretary, as chairman of
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the -- what we call the k-12 subcommittee on education here, on this -- on this committee, i have gone to schools all over indiana and all over the country and stuck my head in a lot of garbage cans to see what was in there. took a lot of school lunches and i know you do the same thing across the country. and i'm sure you would agree as well, the best part of that experience is talking with the kids. seem to learn a lot. they continue to teach me at least. one of my searches throughout all of this and several hearings we have had, though is the potential for waste, fraud and abuse and perhaps the real waste, fraud and abuse whether it's the fraud documented in the wic program or the ineligible students receiving free and reduced breakfast and lunches and i appreciate the discussion we have had about you needing to see more than 3% in terms of a sample and you offered 10% as a
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goal that should be changed in law. if you do that on a school-wise basis, though, 10%, shouldn't the schools also at least get a 10% sampling of the applications? because i understand right now they only do about 3% under the law, as well. >> well, i think the goal here is to figure a way in which we can hold folks accountable. and to figure out ways in which -- >> right. is 3 at the school level? >> i'm sorry, what? >> is the 3% sample application at the school level? >> let me check on that. i don't know. yeah. that's accurate. >> should we raise it to 10% if you're -- >> to the extent that we think looking at more applications will provide us more information that will allow us to reduce error rates i would be in favor of anything that would enable this. you know?
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obviously, we don't want to necessarily create busy work for schools but this is an issue we're all concerned about and they have a responsibility to work with us to reduce the error rate. >> i might be willing to help you with that. i think in light of other technologies or other ways to get to the bottom of waste, fraud and abuse i think you make a reasonable request. as i've gone to one school in particular, i recall it was in lafayette, they made me a batch of mashed potatoes under the current goals and guidelines and they were god awful and then a batch of mashed potatoes under the regulations that they have to get to within the next ten years and they were just terrible. have you had any of those experiences or have all of your experiences been good? >> well, look. i think you could probably go to schools if you went to all 99,000 schools that are currently trying to comply, you would find a circumstance a day,
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a meal an entree that probably you wouldn't like. that's why we have focused on ways and strategies to help school districts do a better job. part of it is bringing chefs into the schools to explain how you might be able to utilize better cooking techniques. it's why we have focused on school equipment grants. it's why we have developed our team up for success program linking struggling schools with succeeding schools far mentor in a similar circumstance to say, hey, you can do this. >> i found mr. secretary, i found creative people there. these went deep fry cooks. okay? the first batch of mashed potatoes had butter buds and the new regulations were -- the new batch of potatoes under 30 milligrams of sodium. at some point you got to -- but all right. i understand what you're saying. maybe the chefs can come to our
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schools in indiana. going to the department of integrity that you speak of, interested in learning more about that. do you have all the teeth you need in law for -- >> i'm sorry, what? >> the department of integrity, do you have the teeth that you need in current law to make that department of integrity work? what do you envision it doing to make a difference? >> well, it's starting i think with taking a look at the application process and determining whether or not there's ways to prevent errors and mistakes on applications that inl crease the error rate. it's also working with software producers to develop an online application process that could potentially reduce errors as well. you know, obviously, if we're given more capacity and opportunities to look at more schools there would be a responsibility there, as well. there's data mining that can be done to take a look at where if we have repeat issues involving a particular state. and it may be able to identify where standardization additional training in a particular state might be helpful.
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>> i'm out of time. i'm sorry. thank you for vuch my thank the gentleman. mr. sablan? >> thank you. mr. secretary, welcome. it's always nice to have a conversation with you sir. and, you know, especially when you're reporting at about 90%. that over 90% of the schools in the country meeting the national guide lines for school milk program. and i don't know what it's like to run a family dinner but my experience is it is always that kid, meaning me made a stink about eating vegetables growing up and i get the attention and everyone else quietly enjoyed what was put on the table so it's good to hear that 90% of the kids feeding with the program getting along with it if not complaining. i have heard some complaints for kids eating brown rice but in my district expecting white rice,
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the school system has gradually introduced more nutritious brown rice by a little bit over time and i understand this approach is working and i cannot overemphasizing what a significant cultural shift that represents and compliment the school system, the public school system receiveinges a block grant for the child nutrition program. it serves over 14,000 meals each day to over 11,000 school children. now, food costs have gone up since 1991. the year when the block grant started in the northern mariana marianas. i'm concerned there's no review whether the payment rates are proportional to the cost of providing nutritious meals there as were done for alaska and hawaii in 1979. in an exercise of authority to do so under section 10 of the child nutrition amendment of 1978. so my question is, would you be
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willing to exercise this authority again to review payment rates in the northern marianas so that you can set the appropriate reimburse rates to reflect the cost of food in that area, in my district. >> well, i'd be happy to work with you, congressman, on that issue. and obviously, more of a general comment on your comments, you know, we're pleased with the fact we're seeing more fruit and vegetable consumption by kids as a result of these standards and honestly, dealing with about food waste, i hope that maybe it's not in committee, some committee will work with us to deal with the fact that today in america 30% of all the food that's produced in this country is wasted. 30%. 133 billion pounds of food and that's a global issue as well. and if you think about 30%, you think about all the costs associated with producing that. it's a focus of ours now. we have over 2,000 partners looking at ways to reduce food waste across the country.
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>> yeah. mr. secretary, when i signed up for the army army reserves i actually almost got turned down because i was fat, obese. but a number of recent studies indicate that one third of all children between ages of 6 and 9 are overweight or obese. in talking about the childhood obesity epidemic in this country i think it's sometimes hard to make the link of obesity and hunger. can you help clarify that link to us, please? >> i'm sorry? >> can you clarify the link of obesity and hunger? >> it is somewhat difficult for some to understand that that can sometimes be twin challenges at a particular youngster to face. if you live in a family that's struggling financially, then they're looking for food products that will basically provide substance but also try to deal with a pangs of hunger so oftentimes they look at
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processed foods. those families may have limited access to full scale grocery stores. that's one of the reasons why we have improved the snap program to allow the redervegs of ept benefits at farmer's marchtkets and the food insecurity initiative we launched and recipes for snap families to figure out ways for more nutritious, less empty calorie meals. and it is a challenge. and it's, frankly, it's something that i -- you've mentioned your challenge. i had the same and continue to have the same challenge. i still remember the fact that my mother put a cartoon on the refrigerator at our house of a very very overweight kid with a beanie cap to tell me to stay out of the refrigerator. >> we have a standing invitation for you or mr. row to come to the northern marianas and
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energize the relationship whether it's with your people in san francisco, your honolulu folks are very attentive to us and even your guam people. i just want to mention that. renewal of cooperation and i appreciate it and thank you for your leadership. >> gentleman's time expired. mr. brat. >> mr. secretary, thank you for being with us here today. i have a couple questions. the ranking member made a comment. it's our job to provide nutritious meals. i think most of us agree with that statement in the short run. but i want to get your thoughts on what you'd make of that in the long run. both on the economic front and on the ethics front. i think we got a few issues coming up with governor's wife of virginia came up and sat in your seat a few weeks ago. we got $127 trillion unfunded liability issues coming our way. and the impact of that, that's the entitlement programs plus interest, the cbo director has a nice graph.
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it's not a nice graph. by 2032 the four programs and interest take up all federal revenues. and so that's where we're heading at. looking at a military crisis or education crisis right now the budget committee has a third of the budget to deal with in discretionary funds. by 2032 we have zero funds. on the ethical backdrop, our job to provide nutritious meals and leads into a host of complexity. do we provide breakfast, lunches, dinners backpacks going home for the weekend? if you refuse to do this are you less than 100% compassionate? along with this does it -- health care, daycare, obesity programs. we've heard folks note this is a national defense a national security issue. and then anything at the federal level we have bureaucratic costs added to all this.
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so going forward, we have a crisis coming our way in economics if you incentivize the state which is what i think we're doing through these programs to care for kids, i get nervous about the caring and loving part. the more and more the federal role increases and the less and less the role of the parent decreases. i get the tension. we all want to take care of the kids. i don't think there's any disagreement on that. we want to do the right thing but education, i taught college for 18 years. education is about educating kids and hopefully parents and how this is not happened is part of the crisis. so they can live autonomous lives in the future. and families can live intact. and so i mean one way stating the question is there any upper bound philosophically and your thought on the role of the state in caring for our kids and is
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this a short-run glide path toward the next 16 years as we run into more and more economic head winds? i think we want to solve this problem in a better way. i'm better to go along in the short run for the sake of the kids but the long run i don't want to be sitting here at the federal level micromanaging all the micro issues i think belong at the state and local and optimally at the parent level. i want your high-end thoughts on that. >> well, congressman, you've raised obviously some really important questions. frankly, as you were asking your question, i was actually thinking back to my childhood where i start out life in orphanage and adopted into a family where my mother suffered from alcoholism and prescription drug addiction. and she was -- she was you know, she was a mean lady when
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she drank and she was a wonderful woman when she stopped but during the time she was drinking she was not there. she was just flat-out not there. you know i think there are unfortunately and tragically a lot of family that is deal with those kinds of issues and, you know, somebody's got to be there. okay? somebody's got to be there. you would hope it would be a family member. you would hope. you'd want it to be a family member. and you'd want that family member not to feel overwhelmed. but maybe if you're dealing with two part-time jobs and juggling a couple of kids and you're taking in your sister's kids because she's having problems, i think it's overwhelming so there has to be some way to provide some assistance. you know, we send our children to school and obviously you know, when they're in school this whole locus prenis issue you hope the school district is taking care of them protecting them, feeding them well and
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teaching them well. so that at some point in time the light bulb turns on and the kid says i want a better life i want a better way. i'll work hard. i'll do what i need to do. i was in baltimore yesterday. you know, i went to a library. saw a wonderful beautiful young kids there reading. i don't know what their family circumstances were but as the -- as our car pulled out of that library, there were three pop, pop, pops and i thought it was a -- you know, a tire or something, you know? my security guy goes sir did you hear those gunshots? you know? somebody's got to be there. somebody's got to be there. i'd like it to be mom and dad. but sometimes that's just not possible. somebody's got to be there. >> gentleman's time has takano? >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, secretary vilsack, for all the great work you've
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done on improving nutrition. i really commend this administration for being leaders in this area. i'd like to ask unanimous consent to enter into the record a statement of rodney taylor, the director of nutrition services at the riverside unified school district. i'll just -- it's brief statement. in considering the reauthorization of the hunger free kids act, the question we must ask ourselves is how much are the lives of our children worth. the healthy hunger free kids act seeks to reinforce the recommendations made by the institute of medicine and aligning the school food program with scientific research. while millions struggle with obesity and hunger standards provide one structured approach. as a country as parents, as people with moral consciences we owe it to our children. the healthy hunger free kids act gives all children the chance at living a healthy life. the cost of doing snog is far
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greater than the inconveniences. along those lines i ask unanimous consent be entered into the record. >> i think you did just put it in the record but of course. without objection. >> thank you. in california our schools are required to meet higher standards for meals. about five years before the healthy hunger free kids act was last reor thesed. for schools in my district state law helped them be ready for the standards and demonstrated the changes can be implemented on a large scale. can you point to other examples where schools or states led the way for improving nutrition for children? >> well i think there are probably examples of school districts in every single state where there was concerned group of parents or concerned
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superintendent or principal or concerned group of teachers or combination of school nutrition personnel that knew they could do a better job and a better way but there are many many school districts that for whatever reason have transitioned to a sort of central kitchen in order to save money and now they would like to be able to do a better job which is why the school equipment program is so important. some of the school districts you have had the chance to see probably equip themselves and spent the resources, had access to the resources. not every school district has that. that's why the school equipment grant is important. >> well, thank you. i can just mention that my school district, the largest school district of which mr. taylor is the director for nutrition services has been -- we don't have exceptional resources. he's been able to improvise and do what he needs to do but he's been so inspirational to me.
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i have visited his facilities. he's used the buying power of the school district to support the local farmers in the area. the food is fresher and therefore more appealing to the young people. he's strategized in terms of where he puts the salad bar. by the way, implemented salad bars in nearly all of the schools and he put it is salad bar first so that the young people have a chance to make healthier choices first and just that simple innovation of one -- well two innovations. the salad bar and where you put the salad bar f. you all the students are filing past the salad bar first they're going to make choices for healthier food first. >> cornell school of nutrition has put together a series of steps similar to what you have outlined in terms of placement. even if you name the vegetable, we found with elementary school kids, if you name carrots x-ray
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vision carrots that encourages kids to try a carrot or two. so there are strategies. we have put together 2,500 tool kits of the best practices and strategies to distribute school districts trying to do this. there are a lot that figured this out and happy to help. >> yes. and mr. taylor is helping other school school schooldistricts and i thank you you and your department for showing us the best practices. and he's definitely shown our community that this can all work. his own story is he grew up in a very, very poor environment. he knew what hunger was and committed his life to making sure that none of our children today have to go through that and he's been a real inspiration to our community and we thank you for your the standards that you're trying to implement. >> gentleman's time has expired.
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i can't but wonder if the kids are disappointed when they don't get x-ray vision. mr. allen. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. secretary. it's good to see you. i appreciate you coming over and talking about the lunch program. you know, we in georgia we fully embrace the dietary guidelines set by the federal government, and, you know, so no-brainer we want our kids to be healthy and to do that they need to be eating nutritious foods. out of the 264 schools georgia has only 5 schools that have not met the 6-cent certification guidelines for healthier school meals and speaks volume about the dedication of georgia school nutrition professionals to serving healthy meals and adhering to federal mandates. however, nancy rice director of the school nutrition division of the georgia department of education, says that georgia continues to face challenges
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with federal mandates. of particular concern are sodium requirements, explaining those mashed potatoes. and implementation of the usda smart snacks and the paid lunch equity program and the fact is i've been in the schools and i always go back to the kitchen. and talk with the personnel who are preparing the foods and you know, a lot of those folks just aren't happy about what they're having to do. the sodium requirement is as low as a prescriptive low sodium clinical diet. when i played football, they made us eat sodium tablets. i guess it depends on how much you -- how much exercise you get. but kids don't typically eat this way at home and at school they think something's kind of wrong with the food. and that might explain why they don't eat it in some cases. but the implementation of the
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usda smart snacks has caused a significant loss in participation in revenue for georgia schools. the revenue losses range from 79,000 to as much as $5 million for the 2015 school year. the school food directors are seriously concerned about the food service and operatal finances. they say that staff is what will have to be cut first if things do not change. as you state in your testimony, and flexibility is important to comply with federal standards for child nutrition. and how can we work together to provide flexibility for the sodium requirements and the usda smart snacks or the paid lunch equity? >> well, congressman, i think on the sodium there are basically three targets that have to be met. and in fact we have provided a ten-year phase-in on the sodium requirement and provided that
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flexibility that we don't move from target one to target two until the dietary guidelines basically establish that it's appropriate. so we have been working with the food processing companies to make the adjustments and clearly there's an adjustment and over time i spent sometime at the mccormick facility in maryland where they showed me how you can use spices to replace salt and the meal that they served me was extraordinary. within the calorie guidelines. so there are ways to do this. so, there is flexibility provided in the sodium and also been flexibility provided in terms of the pay equity issue. you know obviously we want to make sure we're not reimburseing or overcompensating for paid meals they're not subsidizing the paid meals inappropriately. but if they have, you know, adequate reservels, we give them
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flexibility. there's flexibility put in in those two areas. on the smart snack piece of it, again, i'm happy to get information from you in terms of school districts and try to work with them to see if there's a reason why they're losing the resources that they're losing. maybe we can help with that. >> okay. we'll do that. i appreciate your offer to do that. after the federal child nutrition standards were implemented in 2012, we did see a drop this participation in school lunch programs. and clearly the standards are having unintended affects. have we -- am i hearing that we're doing better now or do we have plans to significantly decrease this decline in the school lunch participation? >> well you know, we may have some disagreement about the extent of the decline. as i mentioned earlier of the over 99,000 schools in the country only 58 drop out and some of those who have dropped
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out are coming back in. there's an article in houston control kl i mentioned earlier that outlines several of those coming back in. we know that there are multiple reasons why an individual student may not participate. it may very well be the concerns expressed here and seen a rather dramatic in free and reduced lunch and may be a situation at home folks feel they'll do better and for less. and we saw actually this trend occurring before the guidelines occurred. so the challenge here i think for us is to continue to focus on best practices, continue to look for ways to make the meals as pleasing as possible. and to work with school that is are struggling. that's why we created the team-up for success. we started in the deep south with a number of school districts. took them down to university of mississippi and worked with them.
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looked at procurement, meal mean yous. we received good, positive feedback and extended the program and will have touched all regions of the country with this effort to try to team up succeeding schools with struggling schools. >> gentleman's time has expired. ms. fudge. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. thank you, mr. secretary for being here. let me just say what i think we spend on feeding kids in this country is a great value. especially since we spend about $3 million per hour on war that we have never authorized. mr. secretary not profit organizations and school vs to operate after school meal programs and summer meal programs separately. these programs serve the same kids, the same meals at the same location just at different times of the year. now, they have different sets of paper work and often operate under different state agencies. it is a huge burden of paper work. is there any opportunity to
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streamline these programs and make them easier to operate? >> well, the answer obviously, we should look for ways to streamline the programs and yesterday in baltimore we sort of committed ourselves to a demonstration project in the city of baltimore to see if that -- if we could work on creating process. apparently we have a rule that says you can't serve three meals at the same location. and so we're going to have a demonstration project to take a look at whether or not we can do that and what the concerns might be so there are obviously ways in which we would look for streamlining and we would be open to suggestions. >> thank you. congressman fortenberry and i introduced an act and a corner of that act to provide flexibility to local schools and communities to include preschools in the usda farm to school program. can you speak to the benefits of farm to school for children and why you would support this
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additional flexibility in the program for early child care settings? >> well the farm to school program mass been extraordinarily successful. we have done 221 grants and we have recently surveyed school districts and we have found that there's about -- of the school districts surveyed about $350 million of economic benefit associated with farm to school so one of the benefits is keeping resources generated in a community in the community. instead of sending it -- your resources for meals a thousand miles away and benefiting some other community, if you will. so there's an economic benefit. there's obviously a freshness benefit. people like the idea that they're helping their local producers and they like the idea that kids learn about what's being grown and raised in their vicinity. we know there's a million dollar opportunity here. it's particularly helpful to small and medium-sized producers. and kids get access to fruits and vegetables that they might not otherwise consume. it's a -- you know to use a
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trite phrase, it's a win-win situation. frankly, districts are learning that they can do this in a way that doesn't break the bank. and that it's quite popular. you know we've done quite a bit of -- i think we have done quite a bit of good with a small amount of money. the program has $5 million to $6 million in grants and what we do with those resources is we acquaint people with what's grown in their vicinity and district within a 150 200-mile radius. we help them with procurement to contract and steer them to food hubbles and other facilities to provide sufficient quantity to satisfy them. >> thank you, mr. secretary. let me ask one last question. it's about summer meals. we have had a number of hearings where both sides testified that summer meals are significantly important to young people. but in the state of ohio, only about 10% of low-income children
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getting summer meals and the national average is 16%. both still low. but what solutions should this committee consider to ensure programs like summer meals are flexible enough to serve kids in need? i look at just my largest city the city of cleveland, 54% of all the kids there live in poverty so the need is there. how do we address it? >> well i think it is partnership that requires local engagement and involvement from local political leaders. mayors, governors have to be engaged and if they are we have seen significant increases. we need to figure out ways to go to where the kids are. we know and i suspect you know in your city you know where kids will congregate in the summer. and we need to figure out ways in which to be flexible enough to ensure that meals go to them. a playground, a swimming pool, wherever they congregate. that's in my town where our kids
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grew up it was a little league diamond where kids congregated in the summer months. way in which we can go to where the kids are. the kids have to go to a central location and sometimes they know where that is and making it easy for parents to understand where that is and oftentimes difficult to get there. trying to make it nonthreatening and libraries are important and schools, seamless program is important. any way in which we can continue to promote flexibility and access we would be certainly looking forward to working with you on. >> thank you very much. >> thank you the gentle lady. mr. bush r curbelo. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. secretary for your presence here today and your testimony. mr. first question is prompted by some frustrations in the state of florida with regards to transportation. as you know, all current usda
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food commodities ordered for the state of florida must be placed on a truck of all like material. would it more sense to mixed products load to decrease loads to smaller school districts or offset some of costs incured by ordering the large truckload quantities? >> congressman seems like a reasonable proposal and suggestion. i'd be happy to take it back to the office to see there's a possibility of working. we're focused at process improvement and sounds like it would be an improvement so i'd be happy to look into it. >> i'd appreciate it. for large districts this is not a major challenge but for some of the rural districts it certainly has posed challenges. my second question is little broader and i served on the miami-dade county school board and oftentimes i would think, you know, it's great we're making this effort to try to help kids have a healthier diet while they're in our schools but
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if they go back home and continue their poor eating habits, maybe we're just spinning our wheels. do you have any ideas as we look ahead at this reauthorization as to what we can do if anything to empower parents to really take ownership over their children's diets and understand that while the schools can help this is really primarily the responsibility of parents and families? >> well, one thing i think we've seen a remarkable increase in parental involvement and interest when kids basically establish a school garden and are able to produce food that they then consume or invite parents to the school so that the parent cans go through the salad line and have the tomato or the car lot or the cucumber that a child actually produced through that you areeir efforts. creating the opportunities where kids get excited about fruits
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and vegetables they produced and then are able to proudly display them to mom or dad or working with local grocery stores where again, they're willing to have a display of a locally produced school, you know -- i know that whatever kids are involved in and whatever they're proud about, parents take notice. one way to do that is potentially creating an opportunity within schools for more community gardens and school gardens kids bring mom and dad in as a suggestion but i'll think about your question. that's a best i can do right now but if i come up with a better answer i'll be glad to convey it to you. >> i think it's important because we're making a significant investment and we all know what a tough time a lot of school districts are having complying. this is all important. i don't mean to diminish it. but it does make a difference. but the problem of child nutrition and childhood obesity i don't think will ever be involved until families in this
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country take ownership for their children's health and ditdet and do the best they can at home. >> that's true. it's not just what they consume. it's how active they are and something parents clearly have an opportunity to promote which is physical activity. getting kids outdoors, having them participate in some kind of activity that gets them moving. as the first lady's let's move initiative is focused on and school districts looking at getting kids recess time and i think things in which parents are engaged in a positive way on this. >> thank you, mr. secretary. thank you mr. chairman. i yield back. >> ms. bonamici. >> i spent many years working in
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a legal aid office and you quickly discover people don't struggle by choice. unfortunate circumstances typically lost a job, health care bills they couldn't pay, et cetera. appreciate your meaningful answer there. like other committee members, i visited a lot of schools and had lunch with many students. i try to avoid sticking my head into the garbage can but i have looked in there. we have great salad bars out in oregon in our schools. school gardens which you mentioned. mr. secretary are great programs that nutrition education that kids take home with them and talk to their families about. and i agree with subcommittee chairman rokita. i learn a lot from talking to students. i was in the state legislature when we got the junk food out of vending machines in the schools and compassionate, compelling testimony of students in a nutrition class learning about health and then go out in the hallway and see vending machines full of junk food and sent
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inconsistent messages. the students were persuasive there. i'm hopeful that this committee will work together to successfully reauthorize the child nutrition programs and build on the success of the healthy hunger free kids act. appreciate hearing the concerns from my colleagues. so i wanted to talk a little bit about something that doesn't get as much attention and i'm really pleased to be partnering with the committee colleague of new york of legislation to strengthen child and adult care food program. i appreciate the representative's interest in the program and working together to put cacfp on stable footing for millions of children it serves each day. children in preschool and daycare, the cacfp provides after school programs and emergency shelters. so i wanted to begin with asking you about the department's process for preparing new meal standards, why are the new meal
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guidelines important. and then i also want to ask following up on representative fudge's issue about streamlining, the usda is working with some of the large sponsors in the cacfp program to imspli if i the interactions with state agencies and hope those sponsors avoid needing to sup mit similar paperwork for multiple states so can you talk about both preparing the meal standards and guidelines and simplifying the paperwork for multi-state sponsors? >> well, there are over 178,000 participating locations in the program that you have asked for and obviously it's important for us to make sure that in all of those locations to the extent they involve children that we're sending a consistent message through the process, consistent message with wic and snap. and snap ed. consistent message at the school. consistent message with summer feeding and important to ensure that the message that is we are sending are consistent. so obviously, we rely on the experts to give us a sense of
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what ought to be served to these youngsters and how it will be consistent with what they're likely to be served in the future at school and summer feeding and down the line. you know, it's important i think that we recognize that the reimbursement rates are relatively the same. they don't get the benefit of six-cent increase but in terms of the reimbursement rate's relatively the same so, you know i think it's trying to remain consistency. now, the issue of process, we are engaged add usda in a process of improvement effort and ways to reduce duplication of paperwork i'm all for it and i think that's why we're pushing community eligibility direct certification. these are all ways of producing better product, greater access less cost and administrative hassle and errors. >> before my time runs out, i want to ask we want to make sure
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the cacfp works well for small providers and can you talk about the importance of keeping the small providers connected especially in rural areas? how can the department work together to encourage cacfp participation? >> just because a youngster is raised in a small town doesn't necessarily mean they get inadequate service or no service or improper service. my kids were in a very small daycare facility in a small town and i'm very sensitive to the needs of kids in rural areas for access. >> terrific. i thank you very much. i yield back. >> i understand that the secretary has a hard stop time near 12:00. we have so much member interest here that i'm going to have to take the draconian step of limiting me believes from here out to three minutes. and i'll be fairly militant in cutting off the time. >> mr. chairman, we can -- in the interest of time, i'm here for you.
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so -- >> you're very generous. we're still going to limit to three minutes because i'm respectful of your time. i'm doing the math here and we could go until well past 12:00 if we don't limit the time so with those new guidelines in place, mr. guthrie. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i just did school visits. a lot of us talked about school visits and i think it's beneficial. and i sat down at roundtables with the people in the dietary world who do this and sat with them and i said when we started. i said this probably is not going to go away. anything we want to do has to be signed by the president so what kind of things would make it be better and the kids eat more? they came up with some pretty good ideas. and some of the things we saw doing the visit there was one particular -- you get particular
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instances hard to even explain. there was a hamburger that i thought tasted okay and you can only get three pickles and a person there guarding the jar and i remember the reporter going, well, what's wrong with pickles? it's sodium. it's gotten to where you had the lady with the to they teas and had to put four in -- instead of the glove and the tray. the kid might get five and that was a sodium issue as well. and so you do see these things with fruit in the -- the stuff you hear i actually saw. one kid at davis county middle school, healthiest trash can i have ever -- in town probably. that was a quote from that young person. but there came -- how do we make it work and everybody at the table was in the school lunch program and so they wanted kids to eat healthy too. flexibility on whole grains. the whole grain pasta is
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sticking together and gooey. no further decrease in sodium and a parent suggested they can't have thanksgiving dinner because there's too much sodium or calorie. on wednesday, they can't eat the rest of the week. and a parent says one day a month or flex days that doesn't count? everything in moderation. and so, when we sat down to say how can we make a program in place work better those are suggestions. do you have any comments? they sound reasonable to me from people in the system. >> well, certainly the whole grain pasta issue is one we recognized a concern about and provided flexibility and that was extended to whole grain generally. sodium issue we also recognized. we also made some adjustments on the protein and portion size issues. so long as things fit within the overall guidelines for the week. so i think there is flexibility that we have provided and i think there are creative ways to deal with the flexibility to
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provide wholesome meals. >> within the authorization coming up that might need to be included instead of waivers and flexibility but the flex day and there can be, p.e. day or field day, they could have pizza. i understand it's during the week and if they have a thanksgiving meal, it blows the whole week. >> just -- mine in terms of flexibility, we gave that opportunity 1,900 school districts out of 15,000 were granted the flexibility. so i mean 2,300 requested it. so it was a relatively small percentage of overall school districts and small percentage of schools. >> they mention -- >> gentleman's time has expired. ms. davis. >> thank you. thank you, mr. secretary. thank you for sharing your personal story which i think really is compelling and reminds us there are many, many families that are not able to take all the advice in the world we'd loof to give them and i appreciate that. i wanted to focus quickly,
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though, on california's historic drought right now because this has really exacerbated food insecurity for many many of our families in areas where this really does matter. it means job losses. accumulation of a host of issues and i know you're familiar, obviously, with the electronic benefit transfer program and the fact that many of the families who would benefit of school meals in the year are not able to do that. they don't have a facility, they don't have a place to go and so expanding that program in these drought stricken areas would be helpful. in california. i know that, you know, i'd love to see that. i have a bill. i'd love to see that nationally. i think it makes sense. the pilot programs have shown it makes a difference. i think young people not getting the nutrition they need in the summertime they're going to lose out by not being in school to begin with and this exacerbates that problem. what about the drought stricken
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communities in california? i don't live in one as much as many of the communities but i'm just -- i'm concerned because this would be a good place to focus. >> well, we agree. and we're encouraging folks to consider appropriations process an expansion of the program because we know it works. we know it results in more fruits and vegetables consumption and healthy choigss for the kids in the summer and deal with the issue of a lack of access if you don't have a congregate site, some place in the rural area or too far away, you don't have transportation or too dangerous to get to. so we're very much inclined to want to see an expansion of that program and really about dollars and cents f. they give us the resource, we'll extend it and look at ways in which we can help people in distress. i've got a much more fuller extent answer to the drought issue which we'll be able to provide your staff. >> right. i think there certainly are issues. other countries have done far better job with this but for the
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time being while we wait for that and host of other remedy that is are out there this is a problem. so is there anything else we can do to -- i think make the case that these ebt pilot programs really have demonstrated for us the fact they work and they keep kids from losing they could otherwise -- >> i think if you can show -- i think it's basically responding to the fact that this is a program that reduces hunger, that responds to folks who are in severe distress, expands access to fruits and vegetables and at the end of the day expands reach, this program at a minimum gets to 30% of the kids versus national average of 16 so you make the case you're getting more help to more kids. >> gentle lady's time expired. dr. row? >> thank you mr. secretary, for being here and your service to our country and i'm going to
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talk as fast as a southerner can. i'm talked to one of our school districts in rural ap la cha where i live. free and reduced lunch and said the kids are not eating. many of them throwing the food away. kids are leaving there hungry. i said what do you do when they're hungry? he feeds them. what mr. guthrie was talking about the food police zooiding the pickles on a hamburger is where we're from the view we have is ridiculous. and so, when you limit the portions, the size and i've eaten many school lunches. i like to go and talk to kids. i do that a lot. i'm saying one school director passed this around. lost on the 3r578 and what it cost in a poor county where i live so they're having trouble financing this. i want to get something else and what mr. gri value who said is
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correct. 69% of adults over 20 are overweight and the average woman today weighs what the average male did in 1960. so we have gotten larger as a country. no question. i wrote you a letter a year and a half ago -- a little over a year ago about the usda to release a comprehensive report on snap benefits are used. and to date in spite of numerous follow-ups we haven't heard anything. basically what we heard was, wrote a letter in july. again, in november. and it was supposed to be out in march. and it's still not out and the reason for that is because that is a huge program. and i think unless you affect that program about how foods are bought and prepared there in a more healthy way, you're never going to fix the school lunch. the kids are going home to their parents and when is a that report coming out? can you tell me? >> i can check. i don't know the answer to that question, congressman, but --
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>> i don't want to interrupt you but i use the wic program for years as an time as an obgyn. and when you put healthy food out there for people to eat, and we spent between $2 billion and $4 billion estimated last year on soft drinks, and i know that's not good news to the soft drink industry but that's not food. and we should be looking at this massive program, if we could get the data. i can tell you when i go into harris teeter which i have an apartment there, they know exactly what i buy. the usda should be able to tell us what those recipients are buying and narrow those food choices so they're eating healthier. those cdc data i just presented are real and it's a nationwide problem. >> i can tell you that what snap folks are buying is not that much different than what the rest of the country is buying. >> but they're buying it with
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tax dollars. >> the gentleman's time has expired. ms. clark? >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you for being here mr. secretary, and i appreciate your personal story and the empathy that you bring to these issues, and i also aappreciate the concerns with things my colleagues have raised with the smaller schools and the problems they're having providing healthy school meals. i am open to your approach. look at flavored milks trucking and how we can do better by rural communities but what really strikes me is that in the richest country in the world, nearly 16 million children struggle with food insecurity. that's one in five american children. and we know this brings lower academic success, increased health factors obesity. cardiovascular disease and increased health care costs. so in three minutes i'd like to
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know our strategy for solving childhood hunger and i really would like to have your opinion on where do we need to focus? is it expanding eligibility for nutrition asis tax programs like wic? is it expanding accessibility to proposals similar to adjunctive and community eligibility or is it simply time to increase snap benefits so these kids can also eat when they get home? >> boy, there, i think it's all of the above in a sense. i would say that this administration has started that process of improving and expanding. and doing it in a way that is focussed on integrity. we've reduced the integrity concerns on the snap program. we're addressing them in wic, and now we have an aggressive effort that we are under way in terms of the school lunch
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programs. so part of it is making sure that we spend the dollars we have wisely. part of it is creating ways in which access to programs is tim plur -- simpler. we're encouraging direct certificateion certification. if title i's a barrier, that would provide for fewer access we need to be working with the department of education to figure out how to get through that barrier. so it's just knocking these barriers down. >> great. thank you. we did it. and thank you. i really appreciate your testimony today and the work that you're doing and we look forward to working with you. >> thank you. >> i yield back. >> gentle lady yields back. mr. grossman? >> thank you. i also toured a lot of my local schools and get the same thing we get here.
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the federal requirements are going up. kids are throwing away their food. if they have an open campus the kids are fleeing the school lunch room to go to the mcdonald's or whatever across the street, because they don't want the federally mandatesed food. the question i have for you, you know, i think it's just odd that here on a federal level we're telling people school districts what they can serve for lunch. because i always thought most of us were taught what a nutritious lunch is when we were probably in elementary school. therefore i wonder about just giving them the money and not worrying about the paperwork. how many people do you have and how much cost goes into paying for these programs? >> well, the school lunch program is roughly $12.5
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billion. school -- >> i mean the administration. not how much is the checks that we send out. >> you know i don't know that the administration is i don't know specifically the answer to that, but i will tell you this. we, the chairman mentioned the number of employees working at usda, mr. chairman, it's no long earn longer 100,000. it's more like 85,000. so we're operating on an operating budget that's less than it was when i became secretary. so i can assure you that we're looking for every administrative efficiency. so i don't think administration's the issue here. and frankly it's not that we tell specifically what needs to be served, but we give people guide lines and standards, and then they have freedom to figure out ways, creative ways to meet those standards. >> it shouldn't be that difficult to make a healthy
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lunch. right now we couldn't be doing worse. people are throwing away the food. and if you have open campus the kids are leaving the campus and looking for somewhere else to eat. >> congressman, with due respect -- >> the question i have -- >> studies show there isn't more food waste before the program. food waste is an issue that transcends the school lunch program. >> the question i want to know, when i talk to my local school districts who frequently want more money. they wonder how much we are spending here to administer a program that is kind of based on the idea that the local people don't know how to make lunch. how many employees do you have and how much does it cost to administer this program? >> i'll be happy to provide you that answer but i would also say that those very same people may be living in a state where they've not spent all the money we've provided to them, and my question to them would be why aren't you spending those resources if you're strapped. why is that the case?
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>> the gentleman's time has ex-firedex pierfire -- expired. ms. adams? >> thank you. i have some serious issues with food insecurity in north carolina. we've got a high rate 26% in the 12th district that i represent. food insecurity is over 30%. so i launched a hunger initiative last month in the district, and i heard some very disturbing things from some of the people who actually came and had a discussion with me. but i wanted to i heard a troubling story about a child who was 20 to 30 feet from the approved site where the bus stop where the food was being served. and the mother mentioned that she was very concerned because the child could not actually take the food on the front porch, which is right in front of the stop.
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and, because of the current regulations, and she felt that her child was being treated like an animal forced to eat in the dirt. i know that's not the intent of the law, but just wanted to ask you what changes you thought needed to make, we needed to make to ensure that we're not discouraging participation in the program and making children feel less than they ought to feel. >> i would say one, we discussed briefly the need to extend the ept program that's been successful in embracing and encouraging access and flexibility and also continue to work on ways in which we can provide greater flexibility in the site locations for where kids are as opposed to forcing kids to go to a site. you know it is somewhat up to the local folks who basically are the sponsors of this program how strict they are about all of this. but i would say those would be two suggestions. >> okay. just one other thing. we have about 600,000 children
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who qualify for free and reduced lunch and only 14% are accessing. i think you've addressed some of those problems. but what type of discretion would the usda have to do to waive some of the current regulations that would prevent students who are eligible for free lunch in not taking advantage of it? >> well i think that the first suggestion would be to make sure if a school district is taking full advantage of the programs that exist. it may very well be that they are qualified for the program that would readdduce administrative concerns. so i would be happy to work with you to identify the school district you are concerned about to see if they meet be able to take advantage of cep. >> thank you. >> gentle lady yields back. mr. bishop? >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, mr. secretary.
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appreciate your testimony. the wic program, we've had a little discussion about it today. there is a legislative mandate to rebate infant formula. and for the allowance to do that for other foods. i've had discussions with folks in my district, and there's concerns that have been raised that the rebates limit parental choice for both the wic participants and the nonparticipants. and i wonder if you might be able to offer up some solutions to the committee today to promote what was intended by those rebates with cost containment as well as trying to find a way to do it without limiting parental choice. and also i'd like some input from you as to who you view should be able to choose the products they see as best for the kids. >> well we, obviously, are mindful of the need for the balance between a healthy package and a reasonable cost to
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the taxpayers. food inflation i think's increased by 12% since the time i've been secretary. the wic costs have increased by 1%. so the package concept is trying to maintain reasonable costs. the issue of flexibility, i know that we have provided some degree of flexibility on formula. part of the challenge is that some of the folks and the choices that people want to make are much more expensive. that gets into a whole cost issue. you know, i thought you were going maybe asking about the notion that some of the formula makers are concerned about. too many people taking advantage of the wic program. because of the way in which states admin stir the medicaid program. and i think the key there is to make sure that the data that they have, the industry has and the data that we have match. because today that's not the case. there's significant delta between what they claim folks who are ineligible for wic and we claim. so there's a set of issues there
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that i think we need to be addressing. >> gentleman yields back. mr. jeffers. >> thank you mr. chair and thank you secretary vilsack for your testimony here today as well as your leadership on these very important issues. in the limited time that i have i was hoping that we could drill down some on the childhood obesity problem that we've got in america. now more than one third of children in the united states are considered overweight or obese, is that correct? >> yes. >> and is it fair to say that this level of obesity is a national epidemic? >> it's of obviously great concern. >> so these children are placed at greater risk of heart disease, is that correct? >> a number of diseases.
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diabetes hypertension. >> greater risk of liver disease? >> may very well be. >> stroke? >> greater risk of illness. i'm not a doctor. and i did raise my hand to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. so i want to make sure -- >> in fairness, he did. >> is it fair to say that childhood obesity increases the likelihood of bullying in school? >> in my personal experience, i would say that's true. >> does it increase the likelihood of social isolation? >> yes. >> is it fair it increases ltsd a severe emotional distress? >> i wouldn't be surprised if that weren't true. >> now the health care cost of obese its per year in the united states is as high as $147 billion, is that correct? ? >> . >> i'm not sure what the number is, but i know there's a high rate related to obesity. >> in your view could you speak to some of the things the
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department of agriculture has taken to address this epidemic of childhood obesity and the sear vee financial health, emotional cost connected to it. >> improving the wic program to focus on fruits and vegetables that kids might not otherwise consume, working with the snap families to allow hem access to fruits and vegetablesk markets. focussing on improved school lunches and breakfasts in terms of the standards and the calories to make sure kids are getting nutrition but not something that is unhealthy for them. >> and last question. in your view has the implementation of the healthy kids act of 2010 effectively addressed the problem of childhood obesity? >> i think it's a component congressman. i think the issue of exercise
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and physical activity is equally important component to all of this. they are balanced. you have to have both of them. it's not just calories in. it's also calories out. >> thank you. >> gentleman's time has expired. mr. messer? >> appreciate you being here. appreciate your stamina. i have had the opportunity to meet with your wife christi in her role as the senior adviser at usaid. and i know we share one thing in common in life and that is that we overachieved in marriage because she is a dynamic professional and somebody that appreciate her insights. i represent a mostly rural area of indiana. ag-based economy. when you go to the schools, a lot of the schools are on tree and reduced lunch. i want you to pan upon the challenges with the summer food service program. as you know this program's
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existed for 40 years. this monday, the indiana department announced its 2015 summer food service sites. and unfortunately in indiana only about 14% of folks who are on free and reduced lunch are going to have access to those kinds of programs in the summer. we have our disagreements on these programs. i think we all agree that no kid in america should go hungry. and, you know, obviously, the first answer is always more money. but beyond that, what can we do to try to make sure that more kids in america won't be going hungry this summer? >> i think encouraging the seamless summer program where schools that are, kids are comfortable going to and would be allowed to continue servicing food and better utilization of our school propertying. i think working with mayors and governors to sort of put the spotlight on this and encourage greater community participation and certainly at the local level
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as a former mayor myself. i know that the park and recreation department could be an important component to expanding access and frankly more flexibility in our programs in terms of where kids have to go or how the meals can get to them. >> that's the challenge the transportation. >> it's a huge challenge in rural areas, which is why we ought to be focussing on more mobility, in terms of how the meals can get to where the kids are as opposed to how the kids can get to where the meals are. >> thank you no questioning. >> gentleman yields back. we have had an opportunity for everybody to have a discussion with the secretary. we're pretty dog gone close to 12:00. we're going to wrap up here and i'm going to ask for any closing remarks. >> thank you mr. secretary, for your hard work and visiting virginia and working with our first laidly, dorothy mccullive
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on child nutrition issues and the importance of good nutrition and for military personnel and the future health care costs and in response to the questions from the gentleman from new york, the behavior associated with obesity can have budget airy impacts. we've done made progress over the last few years in terms of the standards with virtually all 95% as i understand it school systems reporting compliance with the upgraded standards and the community eligibility, which means more people can panties participate. >> i, too, want to thank you, mr. secretary. you've been a great witness. you've got a heck of a big job. we're going to try to do the very best that we can when we
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look at reauthorizing this to address concerns. you've heard a number of them today. perhaps we're looking at different statistics. but all of us it's fair to say all of us want these kids to have a healthy lunch. i think that many of us have talked to listened to eaten with and all of those things, gone to schools and see that there still are some real concerns about cost and flexibility. so we'll be looking at that. very much appreciate your testimony today. i want to thank you for being here. and there being no further business, we're adjourned.
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. tomorrow the american conservative union foundation holds a discussion about negotiations with iran over its nuclear program and congress's role in improving any international agreement. the former head of the defense intelligence agency, michael flinn will be part of the panel. later, president obama visits san francisco to address the u.s. conference of mayors with a speech focussing on the economic health of cities. live coverage of the president, beginning at 5:15 eastern on c-span.
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some are sitting kind of front left of the chamber. so when brooks comes into the chamber he is almost looking directly at sumner. sumner's head is bowed. is he literally signing copies of the crime against kansas speech. brooks gets up. walks down the center aisle with his cane. sumner oblivious to what's going on head bowed. brooks reaches him, lifts his cane over his head and says, mr. sumner i have read your speech over twice. it is a libel to my state and high relative. sumner looks up at this point, brooks is blurred through his glasses because he's so close, and brooks strikes sumner on the top of the head with the cane. sumner's head explodes in blood almost instantly. >> author steven pulio on the
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caning of sumner that brief the cun -- drove the country closer to civil war. this week, samantha power testified at a congressional hearing about the role of the u.s. at the united nations. she answered questions about how she plans to use her position to further u.s. interests and the u.n.'s role in iran nuclear negotiations. this is just over two hours. >> this hearing will come to order and this morning we look at the role of the united nations and we look at the role of the u.s. there with ambassador samantha power. she has spent two years as the u.s. permanent representative to
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the u.n. and the ambassador has approached her job with great energy, great determination and perhaps best shown during last year's ebola crisis in west africa and in that case the administration and congress worked together to contain ebola and to save lives. ambassador, thank you for those efforts and thank you for joining us today and the ambassador's testimony comes at an important time. if a final iran nuclear agreement is reached and the deadline is in two weeks, then the security council will be expected to remove international sanctions while preserving the ability to react to iranian cheating and given all we know about the history of iran's nuclear program, cheating should be expected, the committee wants to know how in a case of cheating how a snapback process would work.
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we know russia and china wouldn't make this easy and i've never known any u.n. process described as taking place in a snap. last week's revelation by a panel of u.n. experts that there has been not a single report of iran violating the u.n. arms embargo not only lacks any credibility, but calls into serious question the chances of the u.n. snapping back any sanctions. the committee is disturbed to watch the u.n.'s anti-israel bias especially in the human rights council. more disturbing is that the obama administration seems to be on the brink of discarding decades of bipartisan support of israel against the u.n. onslaught. president obama has raised the dramatic step of allowing the security council to impose conditions related to a two-state solution rather than supporting negotiations between the parties themselves. ambassador as we wrote to you
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the other month, an imposed plan will not get us closer to peace. nearby, syrians are being slaughtered before the world's eyes. two years ago the united nations called the crisis in syria the worst humanitarian disaster since the rwandan genocide. yet, despite several u.n. resolutions, the assad regime continues its indiscriminate barrel bombing and chemical weapons attacks. those responsible for these war crimes must be held accountable. ambassador, you have said this to your credit, but when -- when will that accountability come. the committee hears testimony tomorrow from some of the brave syrians who have appeared in front of the security council to share their stories of responding to assad's abhorrent attacks including chemical attacks. elsewhere, religious minorities
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are under attack, unable to claim citizenship in burma or elsewhere, many have called the rohingyas the most persecuted minority in the world. burma's persecution has led thousands to desperately flee to overloaded boats, many are rightly bothered by the united nation's poor track record of protecting rohingyas. muslim girls can think they are finding safe haven, but end up being trafficked, being sexually exploited and being led into a lifetime of misery. united nations peacekeeping, by the way, despite many short comings has managed to protect innocent civilians and minorities in recent years the missions in the democratic republic of congo and mali and south sudan have saved lives.
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the committee wants to continue working with the ambassador to see that these missions are appropriately supported and we hope that something can be done for the rohingya people, and that's easier if failing missions some decades old are closed and the horrendous sexual abuses are tackled head-on. u.n. reform shouldn't be limited to peacekeeping. this summer when the u.n. scale of assessments is reviewed i trust the u.s. delegation will be working to spread the burden and give major donors greater say in management decisions. ambassador power, you will be wrestling with many critical issues in the coming months. to say you have a difficult and even hostile environment at the u.n. is an understatement, but you do not appear to be one to shy away from the challenge. i look forward to continue to work with you on these pressing matters. we thank you again for being with us today, and i will now turn to mr. elliott engle, the
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ranking member of new york for his opening statement. thank you, mr. chairman for holding this hearing and ambassador power, welcome. thank you for your testimony today and more importantly, for your distinguished service. as far as i'm concerned you are certainly the right person at the right time to be our u.n. ambassador and we're lucky to have you. across seven decades, the united nations has done a great deal of good. millions say from starvation, diseases like smallpox, wiped off the map. peacekeeping missions that have brought stability to war-torn regions, we must acknowledge that the u.n. is far from perfect. we need to improve the organization's management, enhance transparency and strengthen internal oversight and we must continue to speak out forcefully when member states used the u.n. as a platform to unfairly single out israel. in my mind the best way to
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address these problems and to advance american foreign policy priorities is to maintain our engagement with the organization. u.s. leadership at the u.n. has headed off deeply biassed and one-sided resolutions targeting israel. we cast a lone no vote against the inquiry into the situation in gaza. we've helped scale back the anti-israel efforts in the human rights council overall and it's been a joke as far as i'm concerned. we pushed back against the resolution recognizing palestinian statehood and we've rejected efforts by the palestinians to use the u.n. to gain concessions from israel outside of the context of negotiations. i want to thank you, madam ambassador because you've been such a champion for israel. the israeli ambassador of the u.n. said last week that if it weren't for the help of the united states and you
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personally, israel, and i quote him, would be in real trouble. when the united nations continues to attack israel, it undermines the credibility of the united nations. i'm confident that you will continue to make clear, madam ambassador, that the united states will continue to oppose any biased or one-sided resolutions at the u.n. and that we will not shy away from using our veto at the security council if necessary despite some of the rhetoric we heard from president obama. even with strong american involvement, it's been paralyzed when it comes to a range of challenges because other members of the security council continue to block meaningful action. i would like to mention just a few, and i am eager to hear your view on these topics. i'll start with the civil war in syria. half the population of that country has been displaced and the entire generation is growing up in refugee camps. to be sure, the u.n. has done a lot for refugee families in jordan, lebanon and turkey for syrian people inside syria as thrown through the u.n., but
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russian intransigence has prevented the u.n. in playing a more active role in helping the syrian people chart a better future for their country, and that's only the tip of the iceberg with russia. under vladimir putin's leadership or lack of leadership, russia has walked away from democracy and human rights. they threatened stability and democracy across europe. this war has left thousands dead, tens of thousands wounded and more than a million displaced. we need to expose the kremlin's lies wherever and whenever we can so i commend you for shining a light on the hard facts of the u.n. with regard to iran, we are all eager to see what a comprehensive nuclear deal will look like. i'm particularly concerned about -- i'm particularly concerned about who will determine if iran is in violation of the agreement. what happens if we think iran has stepped over the line, but russia and china disagree? i'm also concerned about how and when u.n. sanctions against iran will be lifted.
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the u.n. is going to have a big role to play and i'm eager to hear about how this process will move forward. finally in our own neighborhood, i am very pleased that the mandate for the u.n. international commission in guatemala was recently renewed creating similar conditions in honduras and el salvador would make a big difference in fighting corruption and impunity and i think we can work together. thank you again for appearing today. i look forward to your testimony. >> thank you. so this morning we are pleased to be joined by ambassador samantha power. she is the united states permanent representative to the united nations and a member of the president's cabinet. prior to her appointment to the u.n., ambassador power served as special assistant to the president and senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights on the national security staff at the white house. ambassador power is the pulitzer prize-winning author of "a
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problem of hell.” america and the age of genocide. we thank you for being here today and without objection, the witness's full, prepared statement will be made part of the record and members will have five calendar days to submit any statements or questions or extraneous material for the record. ambassador power, i would ask you if you could please summarize your remarks and then we'll go to questions. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, congressman engle. thank you for the opportunity to testify today and thank you also for your leadership in advancing america's national security interests and our values in the world. >> last week i traveled to ukraine where i had the chance to see up close what happens when the rules undergirding our international peace and security are ignored. at a shelter for displaced families in kiev, i met a mother who told me how her husband and
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2-year-old child had been killed in february when a shell struck their home in a village in eastern ukraine. the shelling, as you all know was part of a sustained assault by combined russian separatist sources and the victims, just two of the more than 6,300 people who had been killed in the moscow-manufactured conflict. shortly after the attack, the mother fled town with her five surviving children in a van whose roof and doors had been blasted out. her plea, one i heard echoed by many of the displaced families i met from eastern ukraine and occupied crimea was for the fighting to stop and for their basic rights to be respected. as the members of this committee know, we are living in a time of daunting global crises. in the last year alone, russia continued to train, arm and fight alongside separatists in eastern ukraine. a deadly epidemic spread across
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west africa and monstrous terrorist groups seized territory across the middle east and north africa committing unspeakable atrocities. these are the kinds of threats that the united nations exists to prevent and address, yet it is precisely at the moment that we need the u.n. most that we see the flaws in the international system, some of which have been alluded to already. this is true for the conflict in ukraine in which a permanent member of the u.n. security council is violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity that it was entrusted with upholding. it is true of the global health system that despite multiple warnings of a spreading ebola outbreak including those from our own cdc was slow to respond to the epidemic and it is true of u.n. peacekeepers who too often stand down or stand by when civilians they are responsible for protecting come under attack, thus leaving
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populations vulnerable and sometimes open to radicalization. representing our nation before the united nations, i have to confront these and other short comings every day, yet though i am clear-eyed about the u.n.'s vulnerability, the central point i want to make to this committee is that america needs the united nations to address today's global challenges. the united states has the most powerful set of tools in history to advance its interests and we will always lead on the world stage, but we are more effective when we ensure that others shoulder their fair share and when we marshal multilateral support. let me quickly outline five days that we're doing that at the u.n. first, we are rallying multilateral coalitions to address transnational threats. consider iran. in addition to working with congress to put in place unprecedented u.s. sanctions on the iranian government. in 2010 the obama administration
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galvanized the u.n. security council to authorize one of the toughest multilateral sanctions regimes in history. the combination of unilateral and multilateral pressure was crucial to bringing iran to the negotiating table and ultimately to laying the foundation whereby we were able to reach a framework agreement that would, if we can get a final deal effectively cut off every pathway for the iranian regime to develop a nuclear weapon. consider our response to the ebola epidemic. last september as people were dying outside hospitals in west africa, hospitals that had no beds left to treat the exploding number of ebola patients, the united states chaired the first-ever emergency meeting of the u.n. security council dedicated to a global health issue. we pressed countries to deploy doctors and nurses, to build clinics and testing labs and to fill other gaps that ultimately helped bend the outbreaks
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exponentially rising curve. america did not just rally others to step up. we led by example. thanks also very much to the support of this congress, deploying more than 3500 u.s. government civilian and military personnel to liberia which has been ebola-free since early may. second, we are reforming u.n. peace keeping to help address the threats to international peace and security that exists in the 21st century. there were more than 100,000 uniformed police and soldiers deployed in the u.n.'s 16 peace-keeping missions around the world. that is a higher number than in any time in history. with more complex responsibilities also than ever before. the united states has an abiding, strategic interest in resolving the conflicts where peacekeepers serve which can quickly cause regional
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instability and attract extremist groups, as we have seen in mali. while we have seen peacekeepers serve with professionalism in many of the world's most dangerous operating environments, we've seen chronic problems, including the failure to protect civilians. we are working aggressively to address these shortfalls. to give just one example, we are persuading more advanced militaries to step up and contribute soldiers and police to u.n. peacekeeping. that was the aim of a summit that vice president biden convened at the u.n. last september where colombia, sweden, indonesia and more than a dozen other countries announced new troop commitments. and it is the message i took directly to european leaders in march when i made the case in brussels that peacekeeping is a critical way for european militaries to do their fair share in protecting our common security interests particularly as they draw down in afghanistan. this coming september, president obama will convene another summit of world leaders to build on this momentum and help catalyze a new wave of
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commitments and generate a new set of capabilities for u.n. peacekeeping. third, we are fighting to end bias and discrimination at the u.n. day in and day out we push back against efforts to delegitimize israel at the u.n. ask we fight for its right to be treated like any other nation. for mounting a full-court diplomatic press to help secure israel's permanent membership into u.n. groups from which it had long and unjustly been excluded to consistently and firmly opposing one-sided actions in international bodies. in december, when a deeply unbalanced draft resolution on the israel-palestinian conflict was hastily put before the security council, the united states successfully rallied a coalition to join us in voting against it, ensuring that the resolution failed to achieve the nine votes of security council members required for adoption. we will continue to confront anti-israel bias wherever we encounter it.
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fourth, we are working to see -- excuse me, we are working to use u.n. tools to promote u.n. rights and affirm human dignity, as we did by working with partners to hold the first-ever security council meeting focused on the human rights situation in north korea in december. we use that session to shine a light on the regime's horrors, a light we kept shining on a panel discussion i hosted in april with escaped victims of the regime. one woman told being forced to watch the executions of fellow prisoners who committed the quote, unquote crime of daring to ask why they had been imprisoned while another woman told how members of three generations of her family, her grandmother, her father and younger brother had starved to death. this is important for u.n. member states to hear. fifth, we are doing everything within our power to make the u.n. more fiscally responsible, more accountable and more nimble. both because we have a responsibility to ensure
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american taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and because maximizing the efficiency of the contributions means saving more lives and better protecting the world's most vulnerable people. since the 2008 to 2009 fiscal year, we have reduced the cost per peacekeeper by 18%, and we are constantly looking for ways to right size missions in response to conditions on the ground as we will do this year through substantial drawdowns in coat devoir and haiti and other missions. i spoke about my recent visit to ukraine. across the range of ukrainians from the mother who lost her husband and 2-year-old child in the assault by combined russian separatist forces to the brave students who risked their lives to take part in the maidon protesters against the government to the young members of parliament working to fight corruption and increase transparency, what united them was the yearning for certain basic rights and the belief that
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the united states could lead other countries and the united nations in helping make their aspirations a reality. i heard the same sentiment when visiting the u.n.-run camps of people displaced by violence in the central african republic and south sudan and in the ebola-affected community of guinea, liberia and sierra leone at the peak of the outbreak. some may view the expectation that america can help people overcome their greatest challenges and secure their basic rights as a burden. in fact, that expectation is one of our nation's greatest strengths and one we have a vested interest in striving to live up to. daunting as it may feel in the face of so many crises, but we can't do it alone nor should we want to, that is why it is more important than ever that we use the u.n. to rally the multilateral support needed to confront today's myriad challenges. thank you and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, ambassador.
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myself and elliott engel have had frequent conversations on this issue of iran's nuclear weapons capability, and i indicated several years ago that this was going to be the primary focus of this committee was trying to prevent what i worry will be the undetectable nuclear breakout capability of iran. i want to ask you about this iran agreement and u.n. snapback sanctions. if we have cheating on the part of iran as they've cheated on every other agreement so far, this -- i would presume is going to be a real problem if we go forward and we don't get the verification in this agreement. that has to be in the agreement, so now we take up this dispute resolution panel as it's called. this issue which would likely include the six powers and iran.


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