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tv   Health Experts Testify on Infant Child Nutrition  CSPAN  August 6, 2021 8:58pm-10:20pm EDT

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they sold out. it is a combination of a great deal of idealism and sense of themselves as very morally noble. liberating humanity. but on the other hand, a great deal of selfishness and narcissism. a blindness to the way their liberationist agenda knocks down a lot of functioning institutions and leaves a lot of people worse off. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern. you can also listen to this as a podcast wherever you get your podcasts. >> committee on civil rights and
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human services will come to order. welcome everyone. our committee is meeting today to learn about food supply, young children and infants. the committee hearing room is officially closed. keep muted as a general rule to avoid unnecessary background noise. members and witnesses will be responsible for muting themselves when they are recognized to speak or wish to seek recognition. if a member or witness experiences technical difficulties during the hearing, make sure you are muted and use your phone to immediately call the company's i.t. --
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>> members and witnesses are asked to wrap up promptly when their time is expired. pursuant to committee rule eight c, opening statements are limited to the chair and ranking member. i recognize myself. we are meeting to examine federal nutrition programs that support young children and discuss our opportunity and our address our responsibility to give all children a healthy start in life. this hearing will focus on two key programs, the special supplemental nutrition program for women and children, called wic and the child and share program, see acs p.
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these programs have been essential for that healthy development and long-term success of millions of children. each month, wic provides about 6 million people, including half of all infants with healthy food prescription, breast-feeding support, help -- the child and adult food program, provides children and adults in the daycare program across the country with healthy meals and snacks. the full extent cannot be told through numbers alone. the organ -- revise childcare education and services to more than 4000 children and the state. in 2009, a study analyzing the benefits and areas of improvements of ca csp relied on
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-- through the ocd c. it inspired more confidence even as prices are on the rise, providers who were interviewed focused on the need to support more children by removing administrative barriers and updated cacsp will allow them to access foods without raising prices. this is one example of the critical role federal programs play in providing children and women with nutrition. child hunger, malnutrition and inadequate access to care persist in many communities, particularly in the aftermath of covid-19. between one and three households with children suffered from food insecurity in the early stages of the pandemic. for young children, the lack of access is even worse.
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we will reconvene and i will go back to the place and finish the end of my opening statement, then turn it over to you. we will talk about the next steps to end hunger. we must modernize and expand both wic and the cacsp. update technology that provide them -- prevent families from accessing these benefits. as well as simplify program administration so more providers can participate. in addition, future legislative packages must include significant funding to wake. -- affordable acceptable wild -- childcare. -- affordable accessible
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childcare. as we invest in physical and human inch infrastructure, this must be a top priority. i hope to lay a strong foundation for our continued work to make sure all children have the nutrition they need to succeed. i think our witnesses again and rank to the -- yield to the yankee ranking member for opening statements. >> young children and nursing or expected mom -- mothers need nutrition. more likely both children and mother will have safer pregnancies, stronger immune systems and healthier lives. we know good access to food leads to more productive learning environments. that is why a federal nutrition program dates back to the 1940's. there's national interest in supporting a healthy baseline for future generations. there's also a critical role for private partners, including nonprofit entities that now provide the services to people.
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we saw this last year as we dealt with covid-19. today, the richard russell national school and that child nutrition act authorized both the special supplemental nutritional program for women and children or wic or and cacsp . these provide nutrition services to vulnerable women and children. through wic, funding to states for the purpose of assisting low income women who are pregnant, breast-feeding or have children up to the age of five. state agencies work with tens of thousands of authorized retailers so these vulnerable mothers can purchase food such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, cereal, juice and eggs. cacsp reimburses child -- snacks in child or adult day care
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centers. in physical year 19, -- in fiscal year 19. lester, congress appropriated over between $5 billion in taxpayer money for federal child nutrition programs. congress at acted quickly in the office -- onset of the pandemic to help millions of vulnerable people keep access to this lifeline. the coronavirus response act boasted -- boosted wake funding. to help these vulnerable populations maintain access. they will continue to operate because of executive action. more appropriate last year, the facts on the ground are not the same. operation warp speed has done its job, life is returning to normal for most americans. it is time for congress to state
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statutory and regulatory system. with a government program, particularly one that cost tens of billions of dollars a year, one must carefully oz how to administer the program without exposing taxpayers to worse -- with waste. government programs encounter unnecessary hurdles. these families deserve the most experience. i look forward to hearing how conch risk and best strike -- congress can best strike the balance. help congress deliver on the promise of wic and cacsp. the federal government is out of touch with how to help families access the nutrition programs available through them. congress must help disadvantaged americans get the nutrition they need to thrive. any reauthorization of the child
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nutrition programs must involve local partners, they know what works best for the vulnerable people we hope to serve. thank you, i yield back. >> without objection, all other members who wish to enter witness statements into the record may submit electronically in word format by 5:00 on august 11, 2021. i will now introduce the witnesses. she served at that army child and youth services -- paula garrett, a registered dietitian. she serves as the state wic director and the national wic association. charlotte is the -- jessica is the wake -- wic representative
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with the montgomery kind north carolina department of health. and the mother of three who were able to get a good start through wic. your written statement will appear in the hearing record and you are asked to limit your oral presentation to a five-minute summary. after your presentation, we will have questions. the witnesses are aware of their responsibility to provide accurate information, we will proceed with their testimony. i will first recognize ms. turner. >> chair bonamici , ranking member fulcher , i am pleased -- a prayer president of the child
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academy of -- i'm here representing today. we were believe that providing well balanced nutritious meals and embellishing early healthy eating habits is crucial to our current crisis. we are concerned about long-standing and ongoing racial and ethnic disparities, including those evidenced in an heightened by the pandemic. we believe congress has a great opportunity through the upcoming cnr to strengthen these critical programs to address the root causes of this. i believe strong federal programs are an investment in our child -- our country's health. i will share with you some of our experiences operating cacsp and include recommendations to improve the program by allowing childcare centers and homes the option to serve an additional mail, streamlining program requirements, reducing peer
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paperwork and maximizing technology to improve access, and providing adequate reimbursement and funding to cover the operating costs providing healthy food. i run the mill programs for six child and youth programs on base. during normal operating hours, i've monitor roughly 300 employees that facilitate providing breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack to children each day. i take pride in providing meals there made from scratch and meet the high nutrition standards. i know that my peers can feel good about leaving their children at our centers as they set out to serve the country. like all childcare facilities across the country, we took of significant financial hit due to the pandemic. we were serving 1000 children a day and saw that decrease to less than 300 due to the physical guidelines. the only way our program brings in revenue is by food reimbursement. the program revenue will --
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significantly, fixed costs from and the same. a provide some relief or childcare centers that lost my because of declining participation. supply change disruptions and increases in food and transportation expenses are significant challenges. these costs have added more financial burden onto my program and my peers across maryland and the country are experiencing. as much as the pandemic hit our bottom line, a impacted the financial security of families. it is time to reinstate an additional meal or snack in the cacsp, aligning with national standards which states children need healthy snacks throughout the day. we are typically open for a full day of care. it is too long to go without having the recommended complement of meals and snacks. if programs are able to provide an additional meal, it would take time and stress off parents. there is broad consensus that may childcare centers across the country are not participating in cacsp due to inadequate benefits
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as well as burdensome paperwork. the academy recommends streamlining rim requirements, reducing paperwork and maximizing technology to improve program access. the data requirement for parents to -- should be eliminated. this would limit when children can receive meals and snacks and -- many low income families work of wide variety of shifts which may change from week to week. may require folks to be -- forms to be updated with every change, creating paperwork for the parents and provider. we are compassionate reassignments, we also service children with medical and behavioral challenges. the child may not be available to receive the wheel during fit normal hours. it may be receiving special care or unable to participate in our normal meal care hours, so the meals written on reimbursable. moving to annual eligibility
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would streamline program operations in many low income areas during we recommend increasing cacsp reimbursements to make up for the increasing cost to transport, purchase, and prepare healthy food. food and transportation costs continue to rise, healthy food was all right more difficult process -- access then before the pandemic. we need to embrace early habits at an early age to prevent obesity. we cannot afford to not invest in raising healthy children. thank you for your time today, i will be happy to respond to a questions you may have. >> thank you. next we will hear from ms. garrett. your recognize for fun minutes for your testimony. -- for five minutes for your testimony. >> members of the house at
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education and labor committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak about improvements in the special supplemental program. my name is paula garrett, and testifying as my capacity as the virginia health wake director. national nonprofit organization recommending 8 -- 12,000 frontline service provider agencies and 6.3 million mothers, infants and young children that ruled by on wic -- rely on wic. support to pregnant and postpartum women and children ages up to five. public health nutrition services help ensure public -- healthy prevalent -- healthy pregnancies and healthy start for young children. every dollar spent on weight -- on wic. the wic benefit reduces child food insecurity. in 2009, changes to the wic food
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packages introduce foods -- fruits, vegetables and brain, increase the availability of healthy foods in grocery stores. their support has made significant impact on breast-feeding initiation rates. as of 2018, only 57% of eligible participants are receiving wic services. they experienced declining participation, due to structural barriers to access, suggesting that opportunity to modernize and main street -- streamline wic. allowed agencies to safely administer -- the virginia wic program has seen a 12% increase in participation. remote appointments eliminate some barriers to participation resulting in increased attendance and engaged appearance during appointments.
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the lack of a physical -- while creating flexibility to issue benefits as family can more -- at either the wic clinic or physicians officers to ensure they meet the realities of families. remote options should not phase out certain things essential to their public health nutrition mission. consulting to a committed patient between physicians and wic clinics, extending for two years and -- reduce repetitive paperwork which can reduce online participation. the restriction of two -- federal government response to racial disparity in maternal health, particularly maternal mortality between black and indigenous women. can department -- data matching
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through medicaid, snap and canon. expanding eligibility to include headstart and the children's health insurance program and the food distribution programs on indian reservations would support participation in wic. as statewide agencies -- funding is needed to support improvements in the state management information system. the american rescue plan act, congress invested $880 million in innovations and modernization and temporarily increase the fruit and vegetable benefit. this is been well received by virginias -- virginia's wic families. during the pandemic, u.s. ca was able to scale up the shopping, which wic lacks.
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leaving families without equitable shopping options. it should be late -- available no later than october 2024. the farmers market nutrition program provides stable benefits to wait families to -- shop it farmers markets. will help support healthy shopping options. to electronically process wic ebt transactions. thank you for your attention and promoting maternal, infant and child nutrition. i look forward to working with you to advance solutions with public health impact. >> thank you free testimony. mr. farrell, you're recognized for five minutes for your testimony. >> thank you for inviting me to participate in this hearing regarding the nutrition programs
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for women and children. we strive to do food -- but there's food everyday. we are at industry leader in shelfstable food. annual sales necklace of $5 million, we partner with the best retailers, restaurants and -- providing safe delicious food, through wic. as the committee begins to draft the reauthorization bill, companies like schreiber ask you to ensure that the supplemental food package -- reflect item preferences of participants in market availability within categories such as milk and dairy. specifically, congress should allow wic participants to choose yogurt sizes and varieties that butter reflects their current choices. choose reduce fat 2% milk to ensure that they redeem their
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benefits. we are proud of the role we play in providing to wic families. our families -- recommended by the dietary guidelines for americans. nope, yogurt and cheese provide high quality protein and 13 essential nutrients, including calcium, vitamin d, and potassium. going to the dietary guidelines, these are key dietary components of health concern. the health benefits of dairy products include better bone health, lower risk of type two diabetes and cardiovascular disease. these are three critical areas of concern for wic demographics. 90% of the u.s. population does not meet the levels of dairy consumption recommended by the authorities. top and provide this nutritional issue, wic's supplemental food
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-- unnecessary package restrictions caused the dairy program to be too restrictive. congress should allow participants to choose yet yogurt package sizes and flavor varieties that butter reflects consumer preferences. the district of of columbia only allow wic participants to choose 32 ounce containers rather than smaller individual containers. in yogurt, there are 200 varieties, compared to only 30 five varieties offered in the 32 ounce size. they are only 23% of the 2.7 million sold across single serve and 32 on sizes together. this means that wic participants are limited to a fraction of the yogurt available on store shelves. as you update the food package, the department should clarify
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that states may allow participants to use their yogurt redemption for containers that total up to 32 ounces. congress should allow participants to choose yogurt and smaller package sizes which have more flavor options, are more popular with consumers and more readily available at the source. congress should also affirmatively enable all participants to choose reduce fat 2% milk. 2014, the department took away the most popular milk friday, reduce fat 2% nope from children older than two, as well as pregnant and lactating women. unless the wic participant had documented medical conditions. limited ability limits access. many stores in hispanic majority and low income neighborhoods were less likely to carry 1% low-fat or nonfat milk. this reduces in -- less milk consumption by wic families. should allow all families to
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choose 2% reduced fat milk so pregnant women, infants and children can have better access. the more the wic program allows the varieties of sizes that people want to buy and are likely available, the more likely eligible families will dissipate in wic. during the covid pandemic, milk friday and yogurt size varieties were -- managed through the state exemptions. jack says foods that meet their nutritional made -- needs an art more readily available. this allows women, infants and children better access to products like yogurt and reduced fat milk. during this long-term -- doing this long-term seems like a logical step. thank you for allowing me to participate in this hearing. >> thank you for your testimony. we have ms.
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>> thank you rule holding today's hearing, providing me with opportunity to share my experience with wic services. my name is jessica. i'm a mother of three in north carolina. i was able to get a healthy start based on wic. as a parent, i had questions that did not always have easy answers, about how to change my diet while pregnant and make sure they grow healthy. i had a monthly benefit to purchase nutritious foods that were otherwise too costly. wic is more about foods. the nutrition of breast-feeding support helps new parents like me build healthier lives for our families. i was first pregnant louse 14.
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i had a lot of choices to make quickly. even with my mother as strong community behind me, i was grateful there was a program like wic to support me and my growing family. they made sure i had juice for my daughter and help build my nutrition knowledge to make smart choices while shopping and cooking healthy meals. today, my oldest daughter is living and working in charlotte, i could not be prouder of how she grew up. i met my husband, found work and settled in north carolina. my husband and i had two children. while we were more established then, and even though my daughter was on medicaid, i did not imagine we would be available -- eligible for wic. my daughter was a year old before we set up throughout health care worker that we could apply for wic. my younger children would never receive support if there had not been connections between wic and
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medicaid. we have to make it as easy as possible for eligible families to get services. the program requirements are various to a family that lives in a small county that does not even have a birthing hospital. when they were certified and waiting, i had to drive wi-fi miles away to reach the wic clinic. widget balance the appointments with work responsibility and childcare arrangements. these challenges became worse during the pandemic, as i was one of millions of american women whose work was disrupted. i was -- i was able to recertify my children for wic through phone call without hassle and without exposing my family to covid-19. i was able to receive nutritious education through platforms, text messages and by phone. because of the age difference
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between my children, i've been able to see how wic has adapted over the years. with my oldest daughter, i was just learning how to shop and repair nutritious foods. even in 1990, wic encouraged healthier options and steer me away from sugary cereal for my daughter. when my younger children reconnected with wic, i was excited to see all the additions like fruits and vegetables. i was overjoyed when they announced to higher values for fruit and vegetables in june 2021. the benefits of the extra $29, which is nowhere near enough to ensure my children access, but the added value i'm able to make fresh, nutritious meals for my children and introduce them to new varieties of healthy food. wait recognizes that food nutrition is private overall health. as provide my family with
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individualized counseling. in 2018, my local clinic offered training and might three old -- i realized my three-year-old child had high levels of lead. after the pandemic, is important to rethink the wic relationship with medicaid and doctors offices and encourage greater cooperation. i was fortunate enough to be recently hired as peer counselor. local wic clinics are with hospitals to provide breast-feeding support. these local partnerships help connect with broader health care system, which reflects the reality of how families like mine receive care. i participated in wic twice at various price my life. they support healthier foods and public health services that significantly impacted the nutrition and well-being of my children.
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i think you for considering improvements that will build on the important work of this essential program. >> thank you ms. burris. under commedia rule nine a, we are -- under committee rule nine a, we ask questions for five minutes. i recognize myself. according to usda, is -- do not have enough nutritious food during the pandemic. we have seen a declining rate of participation in wic and cacsp in recent years. the farmers market nutritious program is an excellent program, we know many wic participants are not able to fully benefit. as a wic participant, have you been able to receive the farmers market nutritious program benefits, and what has your experience been like. you believe benefits should be
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increased for this program? >> it is not available on my county. it is available and surrounding counties. i would love for it to be available in our county, we do have a farmers market. i think my sister has accessed that in raleigh. -- i think it is great, i would love for our county to have access to that. >> thank you. ms. turner, your -- i want to give you a chance to respond you mentioned that the position paper on dairy and justify the argument that 2% milk -- what that position paper actually says about terry? >> -- about dairy. >> i believe the document
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referenced is by the american academy of pediatric dentistry, the american academy of pediatrics and the american heart association. the consensus statement does in fact encourage children from 12 to 24 months to drink whole milk and children older than that, they recommend consuming water or milk with less fat than whole, like skim and 1%. >> thank you. it is my understanding that if a child has a nutritional need, they can still get to percent if they haven't doctors note. >> absolutely. >> as i detailed in my opening statement, we've been receiving feedback from providers since 2009 about how to improve cacsp. i'm going to be reintroducing by early childhood nutrition improvement act. this will update the law to streamline paperwork requirements and incentivize care providers.
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they will support greater access to nutritious -- these changes are long overdue. i enjoyed bipartisan support over the past several years. under current law, cacsp only provides up to two meals and one snack per day. ms. turner, how would adding the option of a third meal or snack per day help children in working families? >> i'm a numbers person. adding a single meal per day five days a week all year long is 260 meals that the parent would not have to provide. that leaves peace of mind for the parent, less stress for the parent, which leaves for better household, the child is more food secure. it is not just benefit the program, but the child as an individual and the family as a whole. that is the most significant part. >> can you describe, you talked about how many children are in your care program, are they hungry at the end of the day? >> absolutely.
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there are smaller sacks we give, but are not reimbursable and not a full, hearty snack that can supplement their hunger. >> thank you. i want to ask ms. burriss i don't know if you've used the cacsp program, but what is your thought about children and childcare saying at the end of the day and they are so hungry, should they be able to get another meal at the end of the day through cacsp? >> both of my children are in a daycare. i don't know if they participate in the program. it sounds like that's what they have. they do get a snack after lunch, usually a handful of goldfish. i do think it would be grateful -- it would be great if that would be improved and daycare setting. >> before i yield back, i want
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to mention to my colleagues that i have been working on this for folks receiving cacsp, we generally get bipartisan support. we are looking at providing that third meal for kids to stay a long day, but also streamlining. we've heard from so may that the paperwork requirements to make the administration smoother and more efficient for the care providers and families. my time has expired. i want to set a good example go back. i recognize the ranking member for five minutes for questions. >> is a reminder to everyone, ms. turner made a comment that adding or extending the program would create meals for the entire -- that is not true. parents will still have to provide meals, it is a question of which parents. it is a taxpayer issue. we have to fund this in some fashion.
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to that end, i want to ask a question mr. farrell. prices are up. we are all seeing it, all dealing with it. we have come through massive pandemic, infused a tremendous amount of money into the my supply. that is going to have ramifications of inflation. how does -- how has that impacted the wic program? >> the cost pressures are intense right now. the last two years, we have seen labor, freight, and packaging increases on our businesses in the tens of millions of dollars. it is so difficult to find labor and efficiently source raw materials we need. the dairy industry is doing everything we can to mitigate and protect consumers from this additional cost.
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to execute programs like wic, is only going to get tougher from a cost perspective. allowing the use of these programs to be less cumbersome and restrictive will help with those cost pressures. >> as a follow-up, i know there are regulations or guidance in these programs that limit wic participants in what they can purchase in the store. what are some of the ramifications of those regulations or guidelines on the wic program? >> if they can't purchase 2% milk except for infants below two years old, it is taking the most common milk on the shelf away from a lot of wic participants. many stores don't have a full complement of products, they are not able to give the nutritional
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benefits, they do not have the options to sell to participants. in yogurt, a lot of these neighborhoods where wic participants live do not have the 32 ounce size of yogurt, even as an option. typically, the store shelves are smaller, less space, having the singleserve is often the only option they would have. those items are not shelves, they are not going to get the nutrition and other benefits the dairy products provide. >> we talked about the packaging issue, i'm not sure i understood it. you mention the 32 ounce container. do i understand correctly that to qualify for the program, that is the container that needs to be utilized, and is that one of those factors that could be changed, could broaden access to various products? >> that is correct. there is some vagueness in the
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way the laws are written. the states are implementing the rules differently. 33 states plus the district of columbia are interpreting the rules to say only 32 ounce size. we would like to see clarification so that 32 ounces in total with a combination of sizes as an option for consumers be a more clear rule. >> i want to close with a sales pitch for my home state. we are a major dairy producer in the state of idaho. in your view on the importance of dairy spur of the daily diet, and why it is so important to have included here. >> it was in my testifying, the importance of what dairy can bring to a diet. milk and water were prescribed
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as the best beverages to have for children ages one to five. we want to make that accessible. there key nutrients, it helps with bone health, reduces cardiovascular disease. there are so may public health benefits of dairy, we want to make sure as many wic participants as possible get access to those. >> thank you, i yield back. >> thank you, i'm going to recognize dr. adams for five minutes for questions. >> thank you for holding the meeting. we know that children are our future, how they can be our future when they do not have adequate nutrition during formative years is the question. the pandemic has exacerbated
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food insecurity for main children. i pointed this out over and over again. for streamlining and modernizing the application process will help alleviate the burden on -- the government programs. as a fellow north carolinian, welcome to the committee, as a wic participant, can you share more about your participant in shopping for wic foods? >> my experience overall is pretty positive. the only setback has been labeling in the stores, saying what wic foods are available. not having proper labeling. some stores have great labeling, some don't. if you are not sure, you can scan the barcodes and it tells you if it is a wic approved item
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or not. more advertisement in stores, or just pointing out which are the approved items for parents. that is the only thing that needs improvement. overall, it is a good experience. i am satisfied with the food center available. >> thank you. if we had what you just mentioned, the identification, that would make your shopping experience better. thank you for your service. in addition to providing nutritional education experience to children through the programs , you also worked to engage parents. how does providing nutrition education for parents and other family members help you achieve your goals in the program. -- in the program? >> children need people to care
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for them. they also need people to guide and lead them. they're not responsible for their own food, they do not work, it is important that the adults in their lives that take care of them are able to understand healthy habits and proper nutrition so they can pass those to the children. will modeling basic nutrition education, access, how to save might well grocery shopping, read nutrition labels, all that information goes to that caregivers who are more confident to pass that on to the children. they need that guidance in their homes. >> would you explain or speak to the impact between the experience within the wic program and what other measures could be taken by congress to support all children and families? >> thank you for your question. as far as what we are doing, we provide the nutrition education and assessment in the healthy foods we need to support our families.
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what we've seen in the pandemic is that participation has increased significantly. we found families were more food insecure and needed this benefit. the waivers, especially for remote certification and physical presence helped to facilitate those barriers families faced. the waiver to allow for flexibility in the food also allowed for families to receive the benefits they were entitled to. >> mr. farrell, nearly all of your just might focused on dairy and package sizing, could you speak to other important aspects of the wic program? >> trying to provide nutritional benefits is not just dairy, but similarly, fruits and vegetables, grains, we are trying to get nutrients to these participants.
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the reason dairy is a factor, there's a stay that 90% of u.s. citizens are not getting enough dairy in their diets. i do think it is part of a balanced diet. as other fruits and vegetables are is critically important. >> ms. garrett, what forms of support does wic offer new mothers? >> we provide breast-feeding support, in terms of the breast kit -- breast-feeding counseling program. we've done bedside certification appointments, that is not happening covid. we've had several districts to provide certification appointments so the parents never leave the hospital without their benefits. >> i am out of time. i yield back. >> next i'm going to recognize
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dr. foxconn north carolina -- dr. foxx from north carolina. you're muted. >> thank you. my questions are for mr. farrell. the wic program fails if we do not have industry partners in the program. to me, that means we need to ensure the requirements do not -- while still being able to operate your business. you discussed about the problems you've seen in your business. can you react to that and discuss more about what that means, that we should consider as we reauthorize the program without repeating what you told mr. fulcher? >> nutrition programs like wic and snap work well when they
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involve foods that are accessible to markets throughout the supply chain. problems -- occur when product specifications rules and regulations limit what is readily available. it also hurts stores trying to participate because they do not have access. as a result, participants limit act -- limit access to stores altogether. we have to get the nutritional benefits in the hands of our consumers. the more rules and regulations we put onto that access, the harder to it it is to do that effectively. >> the 32 ounce example you used is very good. i've seen my colleagues talk about feeding more meals. there seems to be no sense of where the money comes from to pay for these programs. i bring up accountability in all programs all the time. it should be a major focus as we are utilizing taxpayer dollars.
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this is not manna from heaven. taxpayer dollars. the american people are the most generous in the world. they help their neighbors in need. while i know accountability is largely the responsibility of the government, it takes all partners to help protect the integrity of our programs. sir farrell, what are some accountability provisions you recommend to help ensure the wic program is meeting its purpose without wasting precious taxpayer dollars? i will ask ms. turner to at answer that as well. i have two minutes, we need fairly quick responses. >> i think the responsibility for most of the industry like the dairy industry is to make sure that our products meet wic nutritional standards, container size requirements, etc.. the more restrictions, the
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tougher it is for us to do that effectively and efficiently, it is going to make access that much harder. accountability is both sides of the industry. i agree with the things you are saying, to me it is not so much about more money into the program, it is more about making it efficient, allowing these products into consumer hands. >> thank you. ms. turner, a quick response. where can we be more accountable to have more money? >> considering it is an investment in children and it benefits the whole community, it is important that the community and the academy of nutrition agrees that the community tributes and is able to contribute to all investments and benefit society as a whole. >> ms. garrett.
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>> as a state wic director, i want those individuals who is responsible for holding our budget accountable. in reference to the 32 ounce container size, that is a stay option, we need to make sure we are making the best use of the funds provided to us. those decisions are the ones we have to make. it is usually different container sizes, you also introduce costs into the food package that is already exacerbated. >> mr. farrell, back to you. you brought up the issue of inflation, having a hard time finding labor. nobody has mentioned farmers. i have a lot of farmers in my district. they are being killed by inflation, particularly the cost of fuel. would you like to add anything to what you said about how inflation is impacting farmers?
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>> absolutely. farmers operate on very thin margins. everything you said is true. it is a tough place to be right now as a farmer. we need them to be healthy and provide great products to consumers and participants. >> it starts right there. if we do not have them come there would be no croston investments in children. i yield back. >> i recognize representative hayes for five minutes for your questions. >> thank you to all the witnesses for being here. the programs we are discussing are crucial to supporting new mothers and children in their early stages of childhood, setting up entire families for success. his turner, i want to thank you for your comment that investing in our children is investing in our communities. that is important to remember. despite the programs continued
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success, we know that in recent years, the program has seen a significant decline in participants. this is especially concerning in light of all the child -- prices we've seen caused by covid-19. my questions for ms. garrett. in your work as a wic state director, do you find that many families are unaware that they qualify for the program? >> thank you for your question. yes, we find a lot of our parents are not eligible for the wic program. we like to thank congress for the passage of the $880 million that would allow for modernization and outreach to help families find out that they are eligible and expanding eligibility to headstart families and people forgetting
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the food distribution program on and dinner reservations. folks don't know that they are eligible. -- on indian reservations. folks do not know they are eligible. putting measures in place to expand the program would be a great benefit. >> thank you. that is a problem i have been working on. it has received bipartisan support. this month, i introduced the wic purchase act. this legislation would expand eligibility to include members of a family participating in snap, medicaid, and expand eligibility to those participating in headstart, food distribution programs on indian reservations and the children's health insurance program. our bill also can extends the
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certification. to three years so families can recertify at the same time. next question for ms. garrett. i'm glad to see you recommend expanding eligibility to headstart, can you share more about why eligibility to this program and others would help families? >> families have already gone through the eligibility process for participation in those programs. if we align our certification eligibility guidelines with those, adjusted eligibility means almost quote unquote automatic eligibility to the wic program. it makes it easier for those all right determined eligible for the other programs to be eligible for this program and be eligible for benefits. we partnered with headstart in providing nutrition appointments
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, certifications, nutrition education in the headstart centers, where parents can come come out drop their children off, take care of their wic certification appointments and nutrition certification and get their benefits in a once stop shop. >> i have seen that my own district, in my community, we have headstart centers their community-based where there is housing, employment, all of these wraparound services that one's parents drop off their children they can access. i was a headstart child myself. all of my children went through it. i was a young mom who access the wic program. the other thing i'm hearing a lot is the need for an additional snack during the day. with the remainder of my time, can you share about why that is important?
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>> resources, everyone is not able to provide, especially with the pandemic, especially with job loss and food insecurity, everybody is not capable of providing. it is important to take care of children who are not responsible for the state there in. they should not go hungry because of access. >> i yield back. >> thank you representative. i recognize representative spartz , i do not see you on camera. i recognize you for five minutes for your camera -- for your questions. >> i look a government progress in the county, the cost is very expensive. nor has as much value as -- have
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much more accountability and return on investment. how we can look at the underlying causes and what they are trying to achieve to get people to become self-sufficient , form good healthy eating habits, we still have obesity issues. part of this problem should -- it would make it more efficient, probably healthier for people. mr. farrell, are there any other wraparound services that would be useful that we can educate mothers about healthy eating habits, what could be useful? >> i think continued education.
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dairy is an example, 13 essential nutrients including calcium, vitamin d and potassium. make sure that mothers understand that is important to their diet and the diets of their children. i think with terry, there can be myths like old fat dairy foods, is a good for you or bad? recent studies have shown there are far more positive benefits in those foods. it does not have negative health outcomes like obesity, diabetes, we have to educate, that is the biggest thing. others have talked about, how can we do a better job in store of making sure that wic participants understand what products they can go to.
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jessica mentioned that. i think that is a powerful thing we should try to accomplish. >> ms. garrett. you worked at the state level from the research perspective. to educate people to make healthier choices themselves. how are we going to branch out, i usually have a rule if it is more then -- i do not buy it. i do not understand what is on the package, how we can educate people to make healthy choices? having the -- adjust to healthier products. i'm too busy and how may products are so unhealthy? i am thinking this is hard to stay healthy. any >> thank you for your question.
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what we do the wic program is provide immense nutrition education. that is the cornerstone of our program. many think it provides supplemental foods. the nutrition education actually provides the cornerstone. it gives the young children a backbone by which to go further in life. we try to streamline education to meet families where they are. everything is virtual, but prior to covid, we were doing individual nutrition education, group nutrition education, online nutrition education platforms to meet parents where they are. to ensure they get the education they need without being a burden to them. and what we have done in creating food labels ms. burris spoke of, we call them wics, but they are wholesome, informed choices so we know people not receiving wic that these choices are wholesome and informed
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choices for all individuals living in the commonwealth of virginia. the dietitians who have looked at the food package and determines what need to be put on those are making sure it is healthy for all individuals. >> look at this, labels. i have only a few seconds left. can you -- >> the best part about the acsp and childhood nutrition program is the education component, how it is built into the program, you don't serve or administer without adding nutrition into it from the child all the way up to the adult. >> i yield back. >> i now recognize representative hernandez for your questions. >> thank you so much, chair, and our witness making sure our mothers and precious little ones are receiving the nutrition they need.
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across this country, because of inequality and because our federal minimum wage is a poverty wage, many working families don't earn enough to provide nutritious food. i think we need to focus on the importance of that investment. that is indeed taxpayer money well spent. earlier this month, the secretary visited my district and spoke with a roundtable of nutrition experts, parents, farmers, dairy farmers, chili farmers, and native americans. we discussed the importance of connecting the local farms to schools and programs like this, because it supports the local supply chains, which we saw in the pandemic. it also helps the world economy itself, providing families with healthy nutritious foods. the farmers market. talk about what some of those additional benefits that we
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might see connecting wic and farmers, and parents and children, farmers markets, to the farmers. share experience regarding that. >> in virginia, we have the farmers market -- the nutrition program. it is not as large as we would like for it to be. however, it brings the local agriculture and wic participants together so children and families can see where their food actually comes from. a lot of times at the grocery store, they think food appears magically from a fairy that they have food in the grocery store. but actually touching and providing income back into local economies is what we are trying to do, in addition to providing healthy foods, letting people see this is where these foods come from. these are the individuals providing these foods to you. so you can actually have that
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connection, community connection. i think we should look at increasing that farmers market nutrition, the nutrition benefit to families, so they can actually enjoy more of those fresh fruits and vegetables that come from their communities. >> in new mexico, we double up the value, because we know the fresh food is not done at industrial scale is more expensive. i want to talk about of the impact the pandemic had on childhood obesity. my state, 38% of american indian students were overweight or obese. 30% of hispanic students. 21% of white students. i know you shared a witness
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testimony that there were specific obesity prevention efforts. i would love to hear how you think and other witnesses to talk about the importance of that, addressing those issues. >> i will speak briefly. one of the things we are talking about in good nutrition education is how physical activity also couples with that. even though in the pandemic we weren't able to participate together in activities, we are still able to go outside and lay. when we talk about the measures as far as the wic program, we want to provide low-fat food options for our families that are culturally appropriate for them, as well. making sure you find foods that are culturally appropriate, low in fat, and make integrating the need for physical activity along with it helps reduce the impetus
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of childhood obesity and making sure we do not inundate children with sugary beverages, high sugar cereals, and the like. >> i appreciate the focus on the cultural appropriateness. there's a lot of blue corn grown in the local farms i talked about, which is a staple in native american -- in my district. the easy way to get to the market, and usda. madam -- madam chair, my time is about up, i will yield back. >> thank you very much. i see they are calling votes. i'm going to recognize mr. fitzgerald for five minutes. turning the gavel over to representative hayes. then i will take back over.
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representative hayes, you will provided to get back. >> thank you, madam chair. >> just a couple of questions fo mr.r -- for mr. farrell. being from wisconsin, there's a lot of dairy in this state. it appears milk consumption in some of the school programs has been declining over the last eight years. . is there a simple fix? how about flavored milk? >> that would be a simple fix i think would have a big impact. good to be with you today. we have our production facility in west bend. i know it was in wisconsin. in 2012, when usda removed flavored milk, as well as higher fat milk varieties, consumption
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declined by more than 10% during the proceeding five years. when low-fat flavored milk returned, 58% of schools that were -- had decreased milk consumption, that had an impact. it has the same nutritional benefits as regular milk. thinking 2% versus lower fat varieties. giving participants more options, giving school programs more options, will allow us to give them the health benefits of dairy in a bigger way. >> one other question for you. while this hearing is about wic, i want to ask about sodium in the school meal programs. what concerns do you have, if any? target three of the sodium
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requirements could be instituted. there seems to be concerns around it. >> major concerns. the dairy industry is continuously making products as healthy as possible for consumers. it includes sodium reduction. it's been a big initiative across our industry. but the sodium limits for school meals being proposed is beyond technological in food safety limits. it will actually increase risk in consumers. i don't think we want to do that. functional and food safety purposes, and the products on our shelves, it affects fermentation, which helps us prevent the growth of pathogens. i do think the target three sodium limits could drastically reduce or eliminate cheese in school meals. i don't think that's a good thing. i think we need to understand the impacts. >> thank you very much and for being here today. i yield back.
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>> thank you for your questions. i now recognize representative merman. you have five minutes. >> at this time, i want to start off by saying i represent northwest indiana and lake county. i worked in serving as an official for the most vulnerable populations. mike county had 10.5 per 1000 for infant mortality. with that, i heard return on investment. there was a study in the journal of american medical association that came out that found babies born to wic participation in vulnerable communities are 33% less likely to die in the first year of life. to me, that is a great return on our investment in prioritizing. i know wic, along with other
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collaborative partners, made a major impact in infant mortality in my county. i want to express that to you, and all you do for the most vulnerable populations. this committee provided nearly $400 million for outreach monetization were to recruit more participants to this program. why is it important for the usda and congress to be focused on increasing recruitment and retention in wic? >> thank you for your question. the fact that you just mentioned the return on investment with your community in itself, and you saw there was -- according to the report you read, is a 33% reduction in infant deaths. it is why we need to expand in the outreach for the wic programs. it's also used to retain the people already on the program. to show them the benefits for
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those who are not on the program and retain those on the program the benefits the program can provide to them. not only is it about supplemental food, but also the nutrition education. it is also about the assessments. the referrals. a lot of times, wic is the first point of entry into health care for a lot of participants. this is where we can catch a lot of those issues that would potentially present themselves as problems for our families later in life. so this money being provided for us, this funding, we have to expand it and help streamline the program we had. we are always looking to modernize our program. in the pandemic, we had to make a lot of changes to make our program relevant moving forward. >> thank you. as i talked about, as an administer of emergency assistance, we make sure we saw
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3500 people a year. most families were encouraged to look into the wic program to change those statistics. childhood development outcomes and infant mortality. my second question, and i just want to say it was a coordinated effort to make sure we kept recruiting and talking about it, and lifting the benefits of the wic program. an addition two nutritional support and breast-feeding counseling, where they receive health and demonization screenings, can you speak to the impact of these screenings in your community, especially the tests that may not always be conducted by a physician? >> thank you. i have personal experience. when my son was 3, we had just entered into wic. he got his blood and his iron test. it came back high in lead.
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i would have never known, because his normal pediatrician visits never tested for lead. so we had to go to the pediatrician and do three follow-ups. his levels dropped. we figured out what it was. but it was never known. i was on wic for a month, because i was a breast-feeding mom. i did not realize my iron was low. things like that, it makes such a big difference. it made me feel good it was there, otherwise, i would not have known. >> in closing, i want to say i have worked firsthand on this issue making sure the most vulnerable populations had access to food. the impact it has, outcomes show those eating nutritional meals had value and reducing the infant mortality, is one of the
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reasons why i am here in congress, to make sure we advocate for that. going forward, i want to thank the advocates who are doing what they can on a daily basis to make sure people have access to this program. i yield back. >> thank you so much. our next member should come from the republican side, representative mcclain. are you available for questioning? >> i will go to our next democrat witness, representative bowman. please unmute and ask questions for five minutes. >> thank you so much, madam chair. ms. turner, thank you so much for your testimony. your work serving military families as a nutritionist for the army and your work as
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president of the maryland academy of nutrition and dialectics. i was a principal for middle school in the bronx, and providing afterschool programs for students was a critical part of serving students and the community. providing a safe, nurturing, and enriching place for them to be outside of regular school hours is a major priority i hear about from my constituents, especially in terms of protecting youth from exposure to high rates of violence. you know no matter how high quality a program is, in terms of enrichment offerings, if a child is hungry, everything else is secondary. for many children in my district, the food they get from and after school program might be the only source of food they get until the following day at school through their school breakfast program. in addition to needing other school time programs overall, we need these programs to offer nutritious foods to the
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students. what kind of barriers do afterschool programs -- out of school time programs face in accessing cacfp? how can we best alleviate these barriers? >> some of it is knowledge about the program, not knowing how to get into the program, paperwork barriers, barefoot -- verification barriers. to make it not as difficult and not as cumbersome for the program and the side of the child and family so it eases them into the program and they can receive the food. >> covid-19's harmful economic tone on families led to a spike in food insecurity. so much of this past year has been remote for students. we don't have complete, no immediate visibility into child
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hunger that could emerge suddenly. that means a student and their family experiencing hunger can experience it in isolation and without being connected to programs and resources to address this need immediately. the next school year is around the corner. what are your thoughts on the need for tracking student hunger on a continuous basis? how could the way we administer the cacfp program help in that important effort? >> thank you so much. the main aspect of technical assistance and nutrition education is a way to reach people and inform them about what is available, is helpful, and tracking can be a part of that to connect them and bridge the gap to what is missing. >> how can we support coordination and collaboration at the local and federal levels between child nutrition programs and afterschool programs, and childcare settings? do you have examples for that where it is working well?
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>> at this time, not a specific example, but i can get back to you. >> i appreciate it. my office will be in touch. thank you for your testimony. i yield back. >> thank you, representative bowman. again, representative mcclain, are you available for your questions? the next representative on the democrat side is representative in food may. i am not really sure what other members are available. so we are going to take a brief recess. there are votes going on right now. that has something to do with it. we will take a brief recess and be back momentarily.

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