U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a champion for Iowa farmers and livestock producers who was born and raised on a rural Iowa family farm, is calling on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to ensure students will continue to have access to healthy meat options at school and to keep political statements disincentivizing meat consumption out of our taxpayer-funded school nutrition programs.
Earlier this month, the USDA’s Child Nutrition Labeling Program certified Impossible Foods’ meat alternative products for use in school cafeterias around the country, making their imitation meat eligible for national school lunch funding.
In a letter to Secretary Vilsack, Ernst writes: “School nutrition programs should be exempt from political statements dictating students’ dietary options. Programs like ‘Meatless Monday’ and other efforts to undermine meat as a healthy, safe and environmentally responsible choice hurt our agriculture industry and impact the families, farmers, and ranchers of rural states that feed our nation.”
She continues: “As a nation we need to support our producers and farmers and ensure our students have access to high-quality meals. We must advocate for and protect our rural communities who continue to feed and fuel the world. I am urging you to ensure that students will continue to have access to healthy school meal options that contain meat and to stand up to make sure political statements to disincentive meat consumption stay out of our taxpayer-funded school nutrition programs.”
Last month, Ernst introduced legislation—called the TASTEE Act—that would prohibit federal agencies from establishing policies that ban serving meat for employees. In 2012, the Obama-Biden USDA infamously sent out an agency newsletter that would serve as a catalyst for instituting the “Meatless Monday” initiative at the department.