Senate passes Child Nutrition Act reauthorization, to improve school meals

Senate passes Child Nutrition Act reauthorization, to improve school meals

By Agri-Pulse Staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



Washington, Aug. 5 - Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) got her wish Thursday, with a unanimous Senate vote to reauthorize federal child nutrition programs. The legislation now must be passed quickly by the House after it returns Sept. 14 because the Child Nutrition Act expires Sept. 30.

The legislation makes the largest investment in child nutrition programs since their inception, setting nutritional standards that ensure schools are serving healthier meals. The bill is completely paid for and received unanimous approval by the Senate Agriculture Committee earlier this year.

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Today the Senate has seized a tremendous opportunity to do what's right for our children and our families,” Lincoln said. “The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act will finally put us on a path toward improving the health of the next generation of Americans, providing common-sense solutions to tackling childhood hunger and obesity. This is a resounding victory for our nation's children and an investment that will last a lifetime.”

The Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act passed the Senate Agriculture Committee unanimously in March, providing for the first non-inflationary increase in the federal reimbursement rate for school lunch programs since 1973. The bill takes a critical step toward addressing the epidemic of childhood obesity by including a provision requiring the Secretary of Agriculture to establish, through a transparent regulatory process, national nutrition standards consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for all foods sold on school campuses throughout the school day.

With passage of this bill, we are breathing some fresh, bipartisan air to the Senate,” Lincoln said. “It just goes to show that when you are willing to roll up your sleeves, work across the aisle, and make the tough choices in a collective, bipartisan manner, that you can see real results. That's what the American people elected us to do, that's what they expect, and that is what this bill represents.”

Lincoln has made child nutrition reauthorization a priority since assuming the chairmanship of the Senate Agriculture Committee in September of last year. She has aggressively led to secure passage of the bill before programs expire at the end of September, delivering floor speeches, making repeated national appeals for action, working with both Democratic and Republican senators, and sending a letter to the President urging him to make child nutrition a key legislative priority.

In this budget environment, with record deficits, we have been able to produce a bill that is fully paid for and will not add a dime to the deficit,” Lincoln said. “It's the fiscally responsible and right thing to do for our children. At a time when families are scrimping and saving to make their own budgets work, I can't think of a better message to send than to pass a fully paid for bill that will help their children live longer, healthier, more productive lives.”

 

A Lincoln spokesperson said the money to pay for the child nutrition bill would come from three areas.

·       First, a provision to extend USDA authority to count bonus commodities towards the 12 percent rule (-$1 billion) which remains unchanged from S. 3307. 

·       Second, a provision to restructure SNAP (food stamp)  nutrition education (-$1.3 billion), which remains unchanged from S. 3307. 

·       Third, a provision to reallocate future unobligated ARRA SNAP funds (-$2.5 billion).

Detailed summaries of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act are available as The Lincoln Substitute Amendment to S. 3307, Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act at www.dpc.senate.gov/dpcdoc.cfm?doc_name=lb-111-2-134 and www.ag.senate.gov/site/legislation.html

For reaction to the bill's Senate passage, go to: www.agri-pulse.com/20100805H_Nutrition_Reaction.asp

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