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Statement About Proposed Expansion of School Nutrition Programs for Needy Children

May 06, 1972

I SHALL propose to the Congress next week a three-part program to expand and improve Federal efforts to provide food for needy children.

First and most important, I shall submit a comprehensive school nutrition bill to revise and reform the present school lunch and school breakfast programs--so that incentives will be provided for expanding these programs and so that each dollar spent on them will do more good.

Second, I will also ask that an additional $25 million be allocated for feeding needy children in our cities this summer.

Third, I will request an additional $19.5 million to extend the school breakfast program to some 3,000 additional schools in the coming year.

In order to maintain budget discipline, I have directed the Secretary of Agriculture to offset these added expenditures by an equal amount--$44.5 million--in other areas so that the Department's outlays will not be increased by this decision.

The new school nutrition legislation which I shall send to the Congress would simplify and improve the structure for Federal funding in several ways. One of its most important provisions would substitute a performance system for the traditional apportionment system in allocating Federal funds for both the school lunch and breakfast programs. Under the performance system, the more pupils served in a State the more Federal assistance it receives. This arrangement establishes an incentive for States to insure that all needy children will be fed. This incentive has not been present in the traditional statutory apportionment system--under which funding did not readily reflect increases in participation.

The proposed legislation would also establish new minimum and maximum eligibility standards for needy children. It would require that all children from families below the poverty line--who now may be served either a free or a reduced price lunch would receive lunches free. To account for geographical differences, the legislation would allow States flexibility to set higher eligibility standards within reasonable limits.

The additional $25 million for the summer food program would bring total funding for this program to $50 million, 2 1/2 times as high as last summer's level. These new sums would make it possible to support all applications for this program that meet the criteria which have been spelled out in laws and regulations. At the same time, I am instructing the Secretary of Agriculture to work with States and cities to improve local program administration in order to eliminate the severe mismanagement that marred these programs in some cities last summer.

The additional $19.5 million for the school breakfast program would bring total funding for this program in the coming school year to $52.5 million, compared to $31 million in the school year now ending. This new money would make it possible to accept applications from all the schools indicated in State plans of operation as potential candidates for establishing breakfast programs.

It was just 3 years ago, on May 6, 1969, that I sent to the Congress my first message on hunger and malnutrition. I noted in that message that America has long shared its bounty with hungry peoples in all parts of the globe, but that now "the moment is at hand to put an end to hunger in America itself. For all time."

In the last 3 years, with the cooperation of the Congress, we have made immense strides toward reaching that goal. For example, the budget I proposed last January allocated nine times as much money for food stamps and seven times as much money for school lunches for needy children as was allocated in fiscal year 1969.

My new proposals would allow us to improve even further on our record of accomplishment. I urge the Congress to give early and favorable consideration to these important measures.

Note: On the same day, the White House released a fact sheet and the transcript of a news briefing, held on May 5, 1972, on the proposed programs for needy children. Participants in the news briefing were Earl L. Butz, Secretary, and Richard Lyng, Assistant Secretary, Marketing and Consumer Services, Department of Agriculture.

On March 7, the White House released a fact sheet and the transcript of a news briefing on the first annual report of the National Advisory Council on Child Nutrition. Participants in the news briefing were Secretary Butz and Assistant Secretary Lyng.

Richard Nixon, Statement About Proposed Expansion of School Nutrition Programs for Needy Children Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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