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National PTA Legislative Conference Will Highlight Child Nutrition Programs

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U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will encourage National PTA members to help schools implement healthier meal offerings during his keynote address at the group's legislative conference Wednesday.

The three-day conference, which kicks off Tuesday at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va., will provide parent leaders a comprehensive review of the National PTA's public-policy priorities and strategies to empower them to serve as strong advocates for children. According to a press release, parent leaders will attend interactive workshops and training sessions on a variety of topics, including delinquency prevention and family engagement. Congressional leaders also will meet with parent leaders to discuss issues affecting children.

Vilsack is expected to discuss the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which charged the Agriculture Department with improving the nation's child nutrition programs, according to the news release. Starting this fall, schools will provide healthier food options for students throughout the school day—from vending machines to à la carte food lines.

During the conference, the National PTA also will recognize Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Republican Congressman Aaron Schock with its 2014 Congressional Voice for Children Award, which recognizes outstanding leadership and commitment to advancing education and issues impacting children and youth.

The National PTA noted that Mikulski played a key role in advancing the Strong Start for America's Children Act—legislation introduced in November 2013 that would provide every child with access to high-quality early education. Schock, a former Peoria, Ill., school board member, has been a strong supporter of the Family Engagement in Education Act, which according to the release, is a top policy priority for the National PTA.

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