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Rep. Womack’s JOE Act Seeks CTE Exemption in USDA Nutrition Regulations

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May 22, 2014

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Rep. Womack’s JOE Act Seeks CTE Exemption in USDA Nutrition Regulations

Today, Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) introduced the Jumpstarting Occupational-learning and Entrepreneurialism (JOE) Act, H.R. 4713, which would provide an exemption for CTE school-based enterprises from new, federal nutritional requirements for “competitive” foods sold in schools. As we have reported, rules proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—authorized under the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act of 2010—will require all foods sold in schools to meet strict nutritional standards beginning in the 2014-15 school year. Though intended by Congress to target snack foods sold in vending machines, a la carte lines and school stores, these regulations will impact many students in CTE programs that operate school-based enterprises (SBE), including student-run cafés, bakeries and catering businesses. This is the first time that national nutritional standards will be mandated for these types of foods sold in schools. Read our recent “What You Need to Know: Implementing School Nutrition Regulations for CTE” blog series here and here.

Rep. Womack specifically cited the House of Grounds, a student-run coffee shop operated by Harrison High School’s DECA chapter in Harrison, Arkansas, as an exemplary program that will benefit from this legislation. The bill ensures that CTE programs across the country can continue to provide their students with practical, real-world experience through these hands-on learning laboratories. The final text of the bill can be found here. ACTE worked with Rep. Womack on developing the JOE Act and will continue to support congressional efforts to provide regulatory relief for affected CTE programs nationwide. 

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