The Senate unanimously approved child nutrition reauthorization yesterday, a big step forward for a bill fighting for time amidst a busy legislative agenda.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act reauthorizes federal child nutrition programs, sets nutritional standards for all food sold in schools, and increases the reimbursement rate for the first time in over three decades, by approximately 6 cents a meal. The $4.5 billion bill is paid for through offsets and stimulus funding.
Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture
Committee, has been urging her colleagues, via floor statements, press
conference, and media appearances, to act before the August recess, as the
current extension of child nutrition programs expires Sept. 30.
“[T]he Senate has seized a tremendous opportunity to do what’s right for our children and our families,” Lincoln said in a statement yesterday. “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.”
All that, and it was unanimous.
“With passage of this bill, we are breathing some fresh, bipartisan air into the Senate,” said Lincoln. “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.”
First Lady Michelle Obama, who has championed the reauthorization as a central tenet of her nationwide campaign to combat childhood obesity, also praised the bill’s passage.
“I am thrilled that Congress has taken a major step forward today in passing the Child Nutrition bill–a groundbreaking piece of legislation that will help us provide healthier school meals to children across America and will play an integral role in our efforts to combat childhood obesity,” said Mrs. Obama in a statement released from the White House.
“Over the past few months, this bill has garnered widespread support from both Democrats and Republicans, all of whom care deeply about the health and wellbeing of our children and are committed to ensuring they have the nutrition they need to learn, grow and succeed,” added Mrs. Obama.
The House version of the bill, which costs $8 billion over ten years and does not have adequate offsets, has yet to be brought to a vote.
Detailed summaries of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act are available here.