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September 08, 2005 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2005-09-08

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NEWS

The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September, 8, 2005 - 5A

* Survey: schools
* one of the largest
sources of junk food

Democrats blast Bush' on Katrina

WASHINGTON (AP) - Candy,
soda, pizza and other snacks compete
with nutritious meals in nine out of 10
schools, a government survey found.
Already plentiful in high schools,
junk food has become more available
in middle schools over the, past five
years, according to the Government
Accounting Office, the investigative
arm of Congress.
"Parents should know that our
schools are now one of the largest
sources of unhealthy food for their
kids," Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)
who asked for the study, said in an
interview.
"Would anyone advocate that we
take the fences off the playground for
elementary schools and just let kids
run around in the streets?" Harkin,
(D-Iowa) said. "By the same token,
why would we allow schools to sort of
poison our kids with junk food?"
Obesity among children and teenag-
ers more than doubled in the past three
decades, according to the government-
chartered Institute of Medicine. Obese
kids will become adults with chronic
health problems, said Harkin, the senior
Democrat on the Senate Agriculture,
Nutrition and Forestry Committee.
He and other lawmakers want the
government to set nutrition standards
for food throughout schools and not
just in the cafeteria.
Giving kids healthier options "should
not be a suggestion, it should be a
requirement," said Sen. Patrick Leahy,
(D-Vt), another committee member.
Kids are suffering from higher rates
of diabetes, high blood pressure and
other illnesses normally associated
with adults, said Rep. George Miller,
(D-Calif).

At issue are so-called competitive
foods _ snacks such as candy, soda,
pizza and popcorn available in a la
carte lines in cafeterias, in vending
machines and in school stores. Apples
and milk are also competitive foods,
but the GAO said candy and other junk
food crowds out healthier stuff in vend-
ing machines and school stores. Com-
petitive foods are largely unregulated.
The Agriculture Department had
restricted sales of competitive foods
until a 1983 federal court ruling, in
a lawsuit by the National Soft Drink
Association, limited its regulation to
food service areas such as cafeterias
during mealtime.
Schools raise substantial dollars
from selling competitive foods; 30
percent of high schools raised more
than $125,000 annually. The GAO
said it was unclear how much com-
petitive food sales benefited school
groups and " how much benefited
school food service.
The GAO sampled schools that
participate in the Agriculture
Department's federal school lunch
program, which subsidizes school
meals and regulates their nutritional
content. Those meals have to follow
the government's dietary guidelines,
which call for eating more fruits,
vegetables and whole grains and
less calories, fat, added sugars and
sodium.
The GAO reported that of 656
schools in its sample, 51 percent of
principals and school food directors
responded to a Web-based survey.
Investigators also traveled to six
school districts that have tried to
substitute healthier choices for less
nutritious foods.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congress's top two
Democrats furiously criticized the administra-
tion's response to Hurricane Katrina yesterday,
with Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) demanding to
know whether President Bush's Texas vacation
impeded relief efforts and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-
Calif.) assailing the chief executive as "oblivious,
in denial."
With much of New Orleans still under water,
the White House announced that Bush is asking
lawmakers to approve another $51.8 billion to
cover the costs of federal recovery efforts. Con-
gressional officials said they expected to approve
the next installment today, to keep the money
flowing without interruption.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the
new request, which is in addition to $10.5 billion already
approved and was being sent to Capitol Hill yesterday,
would not be the last.
Included in the request are $1.4 billion for the mili-
tary and $400 million for the Army Corps of Engi-
neers, which is working to plug breached levees that.
submerged most of New Orleans and to drain the city of
the rank floodwaters, McClellan said. The rest would go
to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Associated Press learned that the gov-
ernment planned to distribute debit cards worth
$2,000 to victims of the hurricane.
"They are going to start issuing debit cards, $2,000
per adult, today at the Astrodome," said Kathy Walt,
a spokeswoman for Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
The cards could be used to buy food, trans-
portation, gas and other essentials that displaced
people need, according to a state official who was
on the call and requested anonymity because the
program had not been publicly announced.
GOP congressional leaders met privately to plan
their next step, possibly including an unusual joint
House-Senate committee to investigate what went
wrong in the government's response and what can
be fixed. Establishment of a joint panel would
presumably eliminate overlapping investigations

President Bush met with Frank Gennin and his wife, Alice, on Sept. 5, in Poplarville, Miss., as he
toured a neighborhood damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

that might otherwise spring up as individual com-
mittees looked into the natural disaster and its
aftermath.
In a letter to the Senate's Homeland Security Com-
mittee chairwoman, Reid, the Senate Democratic-
leader, pressed for a wide-ranging investigation and
answers to several questions, including: "How much
time did the president spend dealing with this emerg-
ing crisis while he was on vacation? Did the fact that
he was outside of Washington, D.C., have any effect
on the federal government's response?"
At a news conference, Pelosi (D-Calif.) said
Bush's choice for head of the Federal Emergency
Management Agency had "absolutely no creden-

tials."
She related that she had urged Bush at the White
House on Tuesday to fire Michael Brown.
"He said 'Why would I do that?"' Pelosi said.
"'I said because of all that went wrong, of all
that didn't go right last week.' And he said 'What
didn't go right?"'
"Oblivious, in denial, dangerous," she added.
In the first government estimate of Katrina's
economic impact, the bipartisan Congressional
Budget Office said the damage seemed likely to
reduce employment by 400,000 in coming months
and to trim economic growth by as much as a full
percentage point in the second half of the year.

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