Both the House and Senate have introduced legislation that will reauthorize vital child nutrition programs that are set to expire at the end of September.
Unfortunately, both bills fall short of the president’s requested funding of $10 billion over 10 years, but the House bill, funded at $8 billion over 10 years, is more robust than the Senate’s and comes close to the president’s goal. Both take needed steps towards increasing accessibility and expanding outreach of the programs to reach more children. Important measures to increase program efficiency and accessibility such as elimination of paper applications and direct certification expansion as well as measures to help reduce childhood obesity, such as nutrition improvements, funding for farm-to-school programs, and an increase in the federal meal reimbursement rate, are included in both bills.
While both bills include many of the same requirements, there are still differences between them that will need to be reconciled, in particular provisions on the Summer Food Service and School Breakfast Programs and area eligibility rates.
NETWORK supports both bills and advocates for full funding of the bills at $10 billion over 10 years.
The Senate bill (S. 3307), introduced by Sen. Blanche Lincoln on March 17, is currently waiting on the Senate’s calendar for a vote on the floor. The bill, titled “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010,” has been funded at only $4.5 billion over 10 years by the Senate Agriculture Committee, falling short of the president’s request. This bill does not currently have any cosponsors.
Strong points of this bill include:
- $20 million in grants provided for Summer Food Service Program expansion.
- Increases the number of Summer Food Service Program sites.
- Child and Adult Care Food Program expands suppers to all 50 states.
- Foster children made automatically eligible for free school meals.
- Elimination of paper applications which makes access easier.
- Mandatory funding for pilot projects that will provide nutritious food to hungry children.
- Increases the federal reimbursement rate of school meals by 6 cents per meal.
- Provides funding for farm-to-school programs.
- Expands WIC certification to 12 months.
Weak points of this bill include:
- No funding for School Breakfast Program expansion grants.
- Does not increase access to Summer Food Program by lowering eligibility rates.
- Does not meet president’s requested funding – only provides $4.5 billion over 10 years.