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Sunday, January 21, 2007

 

Help keep local milk in Hawaii's school lunches


Federal and state legislation requires schools to increase the nutritional content of school lunches and vending machine contents in order to substitute healthy food for empty calories and junk food. Milk has long been an important component of a healthy diet for children, and so it has been served in the schools since who knows when.

It seems, though, that the feds prohibit discrimination in favor of local dairies, according to an article in today's Honolulu Advertiser, Outsourcing Hawai'i's school milk:
In previous years, there was no question that the DOE would always buy local milk. However, federal rules prevent such favoritism, according to state DOE officials.
The article notes that giving the school milk contract to a Mainland supplier could be the tipping point for the local dairy industry, which has been in decline for some time.

Without a local dairy industry, Hawaii will be vulnerable in the event of a natural disaster or oil shortage that limits the amount of food brought in. Since milk is so important to our children, it would seem that we should take steps to protect our local industry and keep the school milk contracts in Hawaii.

I don't know what's best to do, but I'll bet that our Congressional delegation can help fix this problem. I faxed each of them suggesting that a federal exemption be made for any location farther than (say) 1500 miles from its source of supply. Maybe there's a better way, but that's what came to my mind.

You can help too, and I hope you will. Please make four phone calls. Here are the local phone numbers for our federal representatives. Please tell them to fix things so that Hawaii can continue to supply its school children with local, rather than Mainland, milk. Please do it.

Representative Neil Abercrombie, Phone: (808) 541-2570
Senator Daniel K. Akaka, Phone: (808) 522-8970
Representative Mazie K. Hirono, Phone: (808) 541-1986
Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Phone: (808) 541-2542

Don't worry, you don't get to speak to the congresspeople themselves, someone will take a message. Your call can make a difference--please call right away before you forget. Thanks!




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