Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization – Let’s Do it Right!

October 19, 2009

Over
the past several months, we’ve been preparing for Congress to take up
reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act this fall.  However, as you may
have noticed, the healthcare debate has been all-consuming
in Washington, delaying most everything else —
including
Child Nutrition Act reauthorization.

Last
week, the Agriculture
Appropriations bill

extended the current school food program through
September 30, 2010 – and all it needs is a presidential signature. It
makes some important new investments in health, including:

  • $85 million to improve
    children’s access to meals during the summer
     
  • $25 million to help
    schools purchase cafeteria equipment to provide healthy school meals
     
  • $25 million to help states
    automatically enroll children in the School Lunch Program

However,
it does not fundamentally shift the program or fund healthier school
food. That
battle will be taken up next fall.

This
extension is not unexpected and it may not be a bad thing.  Updating the
Child Nutrition Act could involve major policy shifts, and it deserves to be in the
front and center of policy discussions  when it's taken up.
As long as the health care
debate continues, the
Child Nutrition Act reauthorization and the school food issues it involves may get lost in the
shuffle. 

So while we won’t see comprehensive reforms to school food
this year, we have seen a great deal of exciting movement from the administration (some of which we’ve blogged about here
and here).  All of this movement will affect the debate when Congress takes it up next year.

In the meantime, we will again bring our student chefs — and the
healthy school meals they design — to Washington, we will continue
working with policymakers on school nutrition, and we will work to
raise the profile of
the issues involved in Child Nutrition Act reauthorization,
particularly the issue of making more nutritious school meals available
to children throughout the US. 

Stay
tuned – we’ll keep you updated.