WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Child Nutrition Initiative congratulates U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee for their dedication and hard work to pass the bipartisan Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (S. 3307). By sending this bill to President Obama's desk, Congress has made a historic investment in improving our children's health and increasing their access to nutritious school meals.
This bipartisan and fully paid for legislation improves the nutritional standards for meals served in schools through the national school breakfast and lunch programs—critical lifelines that feed more than 30 million kids nationwide every day. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act includes desperately-needed improvements to school lunch reimbursement rates—providing schools with an additional 6 cents per lunch in order to help them purchase healthier food. The bill also improves standards for food sold outside of the cafeteria in vending machines and other outlets on school grounds. The bill was originally introduced in the Senate by Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark). It passed the Senate unanimously in August.
As more children depend on school food and consume up to half of their daily calories there, it is critical that we provide schools with the resources they need to improve children's health and readiness to learn, and this bill does just that. Passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act also will help curb skyrocketing obesity rates across the country and provide important nutrition to children that do not otherwise have access to consistent, reliable foods outside of school.
Specific improvements made by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act include:
- 120,000 more low-income children will receive free school meals each year from improvements to direct certification.
- 2,500 schools will be able to use new methods of offering universal free lunches and breakfasts to children through improvements to community eligibility.
- After 10 years of work to remove unhealthy food from vending machines and a la carte lines, this bill would finally allow USDA to update nutrition standards for all food sold outside of school meals.
- USDA is working on updated school meal standards, which should be released this year. Increased reimbursement rates are essential to help schools meet the updated standards and serve more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The bill also will help improve meal quality and increase resources by providing more technical assistance, strengthening accountability and reforming meal payments.
- Upon full implementation, 29 million more afterschool suppers will be provided to at-risk children each year.
- The bill will strengthen school wellness policies, supporting schools' efforts to improve nutrition and physical activity for children.
- The bill will support local famers and bring more healthy foods into schools by providing $40 million for farm to school programs.
- The bill will increase participation in the Child and Adult Care Food program by simplifying area eligibility determinations.
- It will increase participation in the WIC program by streamlining certification periods.
We congratulate the House and Senate for passing this important legislation that will help ensure our kids get the nutrition they need to stay healthy and succeed in school.
The Child Nutrition Initiative is a public education and advocacy campaign formed to bring attention to child nutrition issues. The initiative is being funded with the generous support of the New Venture Fund, the California Endowment and other private donors. Additional information is available at http://www.schoolmealsmatter.org.
SOURCE Child Nutrition Initiative