ELCA NEWS SERVICE
December 3, 2010
ELCA Leaders Applaud Congress' Passage of Child Nutrition Bill
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) applauded the passage in the U.S. House of Representatives of federal legislation that invests $4.5 billion in child nutrition programs. The legislation was approved Dec. 2 during the lame-duck session this week, as Congress prepares to adjourn for the holiday season.
ELCA members across the country were part of a coordinated effort to pass the bill. Top leaders of several Christian denominations, including the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, wrote to U.S. House leaders earlier this week, urging the legislation's adoption. Hanson also spoke about the legislation in a Nov. 1 meeting faith leaders' meeting with President Obama in Washington.
"This bill is an exciting victory for hungry children. After a largely gridlocked year, passage of this bill is a positive sign that Congress can work together in the best interests of Americans," Hanson said.
Known as the "Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act," U.S. House members voted 264-157 for the bill, which had been approved by the U.S. Senate last summer. It now goes to President Obama for his signature.
The bill expands school lunch programs and contains new standards that require schools to provide more fruits, vegetables and whole grain products in lunches.
The ELCA Washington Office coordinated a grassroots effort through members, congregations and synods across the country to help push the child nutrition bill through Congress, according to the Rev. Andrew D. Genszler, director of advocacy, ELCA Washington Office. ELCA members called their legislators and sent thousands of e-mails, postcards, letters and paper plates to members of Congress, urging passage of the bill to ensure millions of children receive nutritious meals.
"Everyone from congregational youth groups to the ELCA World Hunger staff to bishops worked together to connect local engagement with this national priority," Genszler said.
Many of the ELCA's 65 synod bishops participated in the effort to secure passage of the legislation. The Rev. Jessica R. Crist, bishop of the ELCA Montana Synod, Great Falls, was among them. "No one wants children to go hungry. Congress has done the right thing, setting aside partisanship to attend to society's most vulnerable -- our children," she said.
Hanson was among 19 religious leaders who wrote to Congress Nov. 29, saying they regarded passage of the bill "as essential to combating the poverty that is engulfing growing numbers of children in the United States." One in five children lives in poverty in the United States, the church leaders said.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org