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Kristie Gurley FOR THE HEALTH OF IT HOW THE QUANTIFIED HEALTH BENEFITS OF THE USDA NUTRITION STANDAR

Kristie Gurley FOR THE HEALTH OF IT HOW THE QUANTIFIED HEALTH BENEFITS OF THE USDA NUTRITION STANDAR

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\\jciprod01\productn\H\HLL\53-1\HLL104.txt unknown Seq: 1 20-JAN-16 10:35 NOTE FOR THE HEALTH OF IT: HOW THE QUANTIFIED HEALTH BENEFITS OF THE USDA NUTRITION STANDARDS JUSTIFY REAUTHORIZATION AND INCREASED FUNDING FOR SCHOOL MEAL REIMBURSEMENT K RISTIE G URLEY * T ABLE OF C ONTENTS I. I NTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 388 R II. C HILD N UTRITION P ROGRAMS IN C ONTEXT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 389 R A. Historical Need: Redistributing Farmer Surplus . . . . . . . . 390 R B. Modern Purposes: Promoting Childhood Nutrition and Reducing Hunger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 392 R III. USDA N UTRITION S TANDARDS : C HANGES FOR THE H EALTH OF I T ? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 393 R A. Changes and Cost-Savings from Proposed Rule to Final Rule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 395 R 1. Changes Required by Congress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 399 R 2. Changes Adopted Pursuant to USDA’s Discretion . . 400 R B. Benefits “Glossed-Over” in Proposed Rule and Final Rule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 402 R 1. Free-Standing Benefits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 405 R 2. Breakeven Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 408 R IV. C HILD N UTRITION P ROGRAM R EAUTHORIZATION : H EALTH AT R ISK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 411 R V. C ONCLUSION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 415 R In 2010, Congress passed landmark legislation requiring the U.S. Depart- ment of Agriculture (“USDA”) to promulgate nutrition standards for school meals. The USDA issued proposed standards early in 2011, which closely ad- hered to the latest scientific guidelines. However, these standards came under immediate attack, largely based on the increased cost the new nutrition stan- dards would impose on schools. As a result, the USDA’s final rule sought to reduce the overall cost of the standards. * B.S., Georgia Institute of Technology, 2010; J.D., Harvard Law School, 2015. The author would like to thank Professor Cass Sunstein, who provided guidance and feedback in writing this Note. Thanks also to members of the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic for invaluable discussions and resources regarding school meal nutrition.
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\\jciprod01\productn\H\HLL\53-1\HLL104.txt unknown Seq: 2 20-JAN-16 10:35 388 Harvard Journal on Legislation [Vol. 53 In both the proposed and final rules, the USDA failed to adequately quan- tify the benefits of the new nutrition standards. This failing would leave the nu- trition standards vulnerable to cost-based attacks both in the promulgation process itself and in the ensuing appropriations and reauthorization debates. In light of these attacks, this Note seeks to remedy the lack of benefit quantification, providing evidence that the nutrition standards in both proposed and final form were cost-justified. As a result, Congress should not seek to reduce the requirements of the standards, but instead maintain them and consider increas- ing federal funding to assist schools in complying with them. I. I NTRODUCTION The National School Lunch Program (“NSLP”) and School Breakfast Program (“SBP”) are important federal initiatives to help fight child hunger and improve child nutrition in the United States. 1 Through these programs, the federal government reimburses part or all of school meals provided to students, so long as the meals comply with federal standards.
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