After nearly derailing yesterday, preceded by 14 months of deliberations, lobbying and near demise, Congress has finally passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, thereby renewing the Child Nutrition Act until 2015. The bill approved by the House is identical to the Senate bill passed recently. It adds $4.5 billion to child nutrition programs, including an additional $0.06 reimbursement per meal; the first increase in nearly 30 years.
The legislation addresses the call from the White House to increase healthy food options, promote nutrition education and encourage physical fitness. Childhood obesity is a primary focus for First Lady Michelle Obama; her Let’s Move campaign has already raised the profile of nutrition and fitness issues in schools, communities and among businesses nationwide. The bill also increases access for children through direct certification via Medicaid, eliminates much of the paper application processing and promotes universal meal access in high poverty communities. There are provisions for retraining school food service workers, incentives to provide fresh, healthy local foods and funding for new facilities and equipment to encourage scratch-cooking and fresh salad bars in school cafeterias.
Many thanks to our fellow healthy school food advocates and elected officials who also worked so hard to bring these issues to the national stage to create lasting positive change for our children.
Here are just a few of the highlights from our journey to bring healthy food to our schools:
January 2009: School Food & Wellness: Change is Coming
August 2009: Opening Day Brings Healthy Food to our Students
September 2009: Time for Lunch: Bringing Real Food to our Schools
October 2009: Westlake Elementary Community Samples Food
January 2010: Free for All: Fixing School Food in America