Deal boosts school equipment, FDA - The Packer

Deal boosts school equipment, FDA

01/16/2014 08:46:00 AM
Tom Karst

The federal government’s omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2014 includes some gains for FDA funding and grants to help schools serve healthier food.

The $1.012 trillion Congressional budget deal contains all 12 regular appropriations bills for 2014, according to a news release from the House Appropriations Committee.

One of the provisions of the budget deal that drew praise from industry advocates is $25 million in grants to help school districts purchase salad bars and other kitchen equipment to help schools serve healthier foods.

The fiscal year 2014 budget deal provides $25 million in grants to state agencies to purchases kitchen equipment to help foodservice officials serve healthier meals, improve food safety and help support the expansion of the school breakfast program — a $15 million bump from 2013.

As written, the budget leaves flexibility for school officials to determine what school equipment they need, said Jessica Donze Black, director for the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project for The Pew Charitable Trusts.

“It could be salad bars, it could be for utility carts, it could be for any range of things that schools might need,” she said Jan. 14. “We’re really happy the committee has prioritized this.”

United Fresh Produce Association was pleased with the $25 million set aside for school cafeteria equipment and will seek additional funding in the fiscal year 2015 agricultural appropriations bill, Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health for the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh, said in an e-mail.

“This funding will allow hundreds of schools around the country purchase walk-in refrigerators, and other types of equipment, they need to serve more fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods to students,” DiSogra said in the statement.

The budget deal provides the FDA with $2.552 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $91 million above the fiscal year 2013 enacted level. The legislation fully restores FDA’s pre-sequester funding and increases funding compared with fiscal year 2012, In addition, the budget package also provides $85 million to restore the loss of funds due to the Office of Management and Budget’s sequester of FDA user fees.

“The bottom line is that FDA has done very well, and we are deeply appreciative of the appropriators’ recognition of the resource needs at FDA,” the Alliance for a Stronger FDA said in a statement about the deal.

The omnibus spending bill also contained language that “strongly recommended” that the U.S. Department of Agriculture delay enforcement of the country of origin labeling law for meat products until the World Trade Organization has completed all decisions related to challenges to the law from Canada and Mexico.



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