The U.S. House of Representatives adjourned for the rest of the current session without passing a new Child Nutrition bill. Instead, it passed a continuing resolution keeping funding and programs going under the current version of the bill, which many in the school nutrition community do not consider adequate to meet the needs of school dining programs.
The Senate had passed a bill called the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act on August 5th, which provides $4.5 billion to school lunch and other federal child-nutrition programs. Among its provisions are an expansion of after-school meals for at-risk children, expansion of Universal Meal Service and an increase in school meal eligibility for low-income children. While the Senate bill has the backing of First Lady Michelle Obama, critics have stalled its passage in the House because they object to its use of future outlays for food stamps to provide part of its $4.5 billion cost. Among those expressing frustration at the House's move is the School Nutrition Association (SNA), which had commended the Senate's action while urging some changes, including finding another funding source besides food stamps.
"School nutrition professionals across this country are working miracles every day, stretching limited funds to assemble nutritious meals that fuel our children’s school days, but in the face of rising food costs and evolving nutrition standards, school nutrition programs need additional support,” says SNA President Nancy Rice. “We can no longer afford to voice our concerns about rising rates of childhood obesity and the need to promote healthier lifestyles at school without investing in the programs that reach children in their school cafeterias each day. It is imperative that Congress and the Administration work together to pass a strong, improved Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill.”
The House is not expected to go back into session before the November elections, which means any new bill will have to be taken up in either a lame duck session after the election or by the new Congress that gets seated in January.