Congress completed action on the child nutrition reauthorization legislation on Wednesday when the House of Representatives passed S. 3307, the "Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010," by a vote of 264-157. Last August, the Senate unanimously passed the bill, sponsored by Senator Blanche Lincoln. The bill will now be sent to President Obama, who will likely sign it, and USDA will have one year to propose new regulations for implementation.
The legislation will give the U.S. Department of Agriculture authority to set nutrition standards for all food and beverages sold in a la carte lines and vending machines in schools. The bill requires the new nutrition standards to be science based and consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In its statement to the Senate Agriculture Committee last year, IDFA urged legislators to establish consistent nutrition standards for all foods and beverages in schools and to assure that the standards are grounded in the Dietary Guidelines.
IDFA Supports Nutritional Improvements
"This bill reaffirms the importance of ensuring that our nation's school children have access to healthy, balanced meals and food choices, and milk and dairy products will continue to be a critical part of the menu," said Connie Tipton, IDFA president and CEO. "We support these improvements to federal nutrition programs and applaud the leadership of both Senator Blanche Lincoln for her bill and Rep. Henry Miller, chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, for seeing it through to passage."
The bill also:
- requires USDA to update the meal requirements based on recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine;
- increases the federal school lunch reimbursement rate to help schools meet the new meal pattern requirements, and
- makes other changes to increase participation in programs, such as the School Breakfast program.
The bill's additional cost of $4.5 billion over 10 years is offset by cost savings in other federal programs, including food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
In 2009, 6 percent of U.S. fluid milk sales went to federal school programs.
IDFA has supported S. 3307 and worked with the National Milk Producers Federation and nutrition groups to continue the requirement to offer milk with school meals, consistent with the Dietary Guidelines. IDFA also joined other food and agriculture organizations to call for immediate passage during the lame-duck session.
More details available here.