Just when we all assumed that Congress was too busy to talk child nutrition before their summer break, the Senate passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act late today. It provides an additional $4.5 billion over 10 years to federal child nutrition programs including the National School Lunch program. The days leading up to this unanimous passage had been full of urgent calls to action–from Senator Richard Lugar in the New York Times.
Does this mean this long road–the battle to get a fully funded and improved child nutrition bill– has finally come to an end? Not yet. The House still has to pass it as well (and then there will be reconciliation, etc.). The clock is ticking however; the bill expires on September 30th and the new funding contained within will be lost if it isn’t reauthorized by then.
The version that passed in the Senate included a bunch of our priorities – more funding for healthier meals, regulations to kick junk food out of school vending machines, and $50 million for Farm to School programs, but it also makes cuts to food stamps in order to pay for them.
This process has now dragged on for nearly a year past its original expiration date–now’s the time to urge your House Rep to help bring this process to a close, which would, as our First Lady said today “bring us one step closer to reaching that goal [of ending childhood obesity].”
UPDATE: Earlier this week there was some concern that the House, in an effort to move speedily before heading off for August recess, might pass the Senate version. Thanks to the 4,000+ of you of you who responded to our call to action with a letter to your Rep urging them, to pass the HOUSE version (the House bill avoids making cuts to food stamps (SNAP) – a move which will impact the children that are the most vulnerable. School lunch should not be funded at the expense of other important food programs). In the meantime, you can still use the link above to write your Rep–urging them to pass the bill before the September 30th expiration.