Child Nutrition Bill Passes | Civil Eats

Child Nutrition Bill Passes

After a year and a half of campaigning, the House yesterday passed the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act [PDF]. Our nation’s school children were long overdue for an improved child nutrition bill that would allow schools to serve an improved, healthier school lunch.

There were significant and frustrating compromises made along the way: most recently, the funding of the bill with SNAP money—an aggressive move made initially in the Senate version, but then eventually also adopted by the House—that was likely intended to split the school food advocacy community and thus kill the bill. The school food advocacy community were rightfully outraged at the notion of taking money from hungry kids to….feed hungry kids. We described our somewhat reluctant shift of tactic in an earlier blog post—you can click here to read it.

Ultimately 1,350 organizations ranging from Feeding America to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to Slow Food USA joined together in a letter to the House of Representatives urging them to pass the bill before the end of the year. Today, it seems, that pressure finally worked.

It’s an imperfect bill, one that fell short of our hopes, however, it has several important gains within. What’s good about this bill:

More money! While 6 cents doesn’t sound like very much—and is far short of the dollar we campaigned for early on—it represents the first non-inflationary increase ever made. School nutrition directors struggle to get food on trays at the current rate. More money, no matter how little, is essential.

Better nutrition standards. In the past there has been all kinds of food sold on school campuses that is exempt from meeting nutrition guidelines. This bill sets out a plan for improved standards overall as well as requirements for all food—not just food in the lunch line—to meet those standards.

newsmatch banner 2022

Money for local sourcing. This bill makes mandatory $50 million in funding for a competitive grant program supporting Farm to School programs at USDA. Farm to school programs work to get local food into cafeterias as well as to educate students about how food gets from the farm to their plates, cultivating long-term healthy eating habits.

Access. Includes changes that will make it less bureaucratic and complicated for low-income students to qualify and get registered for free and reduced lunch.

So while it isn’t perfect, we applaud the House for passing a greatly improved child nutrition bill.

We’ll bring the news to you.

Get the weekly Civil Eats newsletter, delivered to your inbox.

Originally posted on The Slow Food USA Blog.

Today’s food system is complex.

Invest in nonprofit journalism that tells the whole story.

Jerusha Klemperer lives in New York City where she is a co-founder and the communications director at FoodCorps. She blogs for Huffington Post, WellandGoodNYC and her personal blog Eat Here 2. She also cooks up food and fun with Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant. Read more >

Like the story?
Join the conversation.

    More from

    Farm Bill

    Featured

    Apple tree burnt by hot sun and drought

    Climate Change Is Pushing Pacific Northwest Farmers to Protect Crops from Extreme Heat

    Farmers who grow apples, berries, cherries, potatoes, and more are facing more intense and frequent heat, and struggling to adapt their practices to protect their crops. 

    Popular

    Young Farmers Are Growing Food for Climate Action and Racial Justice

    Iriel Edwards working on the farm. (Photo courtesy of Iriel Edwards)

    A Young Oyster Farmer Carrying on the Family Business

    Gaby Zlotkowsky on a boat holding a basket of oysters. (Photo credit: Capshore Photography)

    Young People Working for Food Justice in North Carolina

    Michael

    Young Fishermen Are Struggling to Stay Afloat

    Lucas Raymond holding a halibut. (Photo courtesy of the New England Young Fishermen's Alliance)