Women legislators back supplements for schools

By Clarisse Douaud

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dietary supplement

The nutrition supplement industry has received formal support from
the National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL) in the form of
a resolution recommending local governments to provide dietary
supplements to children.

NFWL's National Policy Committee on Education and Training consulted with the non-profit organization Vitamin Relief USA in drafting the document entitled "Resolution on Improving the Health and Educational Status of At-Risk Children with Daily Multi-vitamin/Mineral and Essential Fatty Acid Supplements".

Such a decree could in turn make inroads for ingredients suppliers looking to get their products into schools - either through donations or business initiatives.

The initiative has brought extra clout to a movement from both within and outside the dietary supplement industry to supply children with additional nutrients via school or other institutional programs.

Current federal funding for school meals indicates there is likely room in the budget for the purchase of such proposed supplements for children to support their overall nutrition and cognitive development.

In an effort to prevent child hunger, the federal government has sponsored a school lunch program in the US since 1946 and a school breakfast program since 1966. However, much of the breakfast funding schools are eligible to apply for has not left federal coffers.

Federal expenditures for the 2005 fiscal year on the national school breakfast program were $1.9bn, compared to $7bn for the national school lunch program, says the Food Research and Action Center in Washington D.C.

NFWL's resolution "urges state and local governments to pursue nutrition programs that will provide multi-vitamins and essential fatty acid supplements to all pre-school and school-aged children who might benefit from these nutrition programs to promote better health, more productivity, increased learning and better quality of life for all children, regardless of their socio-economic status…"

The crux of the motion is both that children are an especially vulnerable age bracket in terms of nutrition, and that all children deserve to have access to a good level of nutrition.

"It is vital that we nurture and protect our children. Our elected women understand this and actively seek out and implement solutions that will allow our children to grow and prosper both in and out of the classroom,"​ said Robin Read, CEO and president of NFWL.

According to USDA data, 11.9 percent of US households were 'food insecure' in 2004, meaning that at some point during the year they were uncertain of having enough food to meet their needs because they did not have enough money.

The NFWL document reads that "children are especially vulnerable to malnutrition, while numerous medical and nutrition experts, including ones from Harvard University, the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, the USDA Human Research Center at Tufts University, have urged that most Americans could benefit from a daily multivitamin to round out the nutrition gaps."

The National Policy Committee also encouraged agencies and organizations to join with Vitamin Relief "to get critical nutritional supplements to as many children who need them as possible."

Vitamin Relief says it provides daily multivitamins to more than 26,000 needy children as well as 14,000 low-income seniors in the United States.

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