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Fed funding cuts threaten national nutrition programs

The budget reconciliation process that will occur this spring could result in significant cuts to the federal child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch Program, according to The School Nutrition Association (SNA). As a result, SNA (formerly ASFSA) has issued a Child Nutrition Alert to association and industry members, seeking their support in fending off any appropriation setbacks.

According to SNA Counsel Marshall Matz, Congress is seekingto cut the federal governments $400+ billion deficit in half within five years and faces limited ways that can be accomplished. Many of the largest budget line items (Social Security, Medicare and defense and homeland security funding, are "off limits" for such trimming).

Areas that remain would have to be trimmed as much as 38 percent to meet the specified target, according to estimates from the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy.

The Alert calls attention to the last time child nutrition programs came under the appropriations-knife, in 1981.

Then, child nutrition programs were cut by about $1.5 billion, leading to a situation in which an estimated three million children dropped out of the program. Since 1981, child nutrition has managed to avoid further-cuts, and the 2006 budget President Bush released on February does not propose any. The question will be how Congress crafts the reconciliation legislation.

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