Today President Obama will sign the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 into law during a special signing ceremony at a local Washington, D.C. school. The bill, which reauthorizes many federal nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch Program, is a critical part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation.
“It’s a great day for kids,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on a call with reporters late last week. “It’s going to be a very significant day, if not one of the most significant days, in child nutrition perhaps since 1946 when the School Lunch Act was enacted by President Truman.”
The bill would, for the the first time, set nutritional standards for all food sold in schools–including vending machines and a la carte lines–and mandate an increase in the meal reimbursement rate for the first time in over three decades, by approximately 6 cents a meal. The legislation will also expand enrollment of already-qualified students in federal meal programs, provide funding for farm-to-school programs, and expand access to breakfast programs.
Food safety protocols also get a boost in the new law. The bill improves recall procedures and extends existing HACCP requirements to include “all places where school meals are prepared or served,” according to the House Education & Labor Committee.
The landmark legislation was unanimously approved by the Senate in August and approved 264 to 157 in the House in early December.
The president and Mrs. Obama will be joined by cabinet secretaries, members of Congress and the leading advocates who worked to pass the legislation at the special ceremony hosted at Harriet Tubman Elementary School. The school was adopted by White House executive chef Christeta Comerford, senior policy adviser for healthy food initiatives, Sam Kass, and executive pastry chef Bill Yosses as part of the Chefs Move to schools initiative, part of Mrs. Obama’s wider Let’s Move! campaign targeting childhood obesity.
The event will be livestreamed at WhiteHouse.gov/live at 10:25 a.m. EST.