Child Nutrition Act Vote Delayed: What’s Next?

September 30, 2010

by Mark Bishop, deputy director

Advocates have been pushing for a new Child Nutrition bill for nearly two years now. (For a recap of analysis along the way, check out the child nutrition section of HSC's blog.) And while expectations were high early on, political realities have set in.The most recent bills under consideration (including the one passed by the Senate) include only a six-cent increase in meal reiumbursement rates for schools. And the funding in the Senate bill takes money from food stamps! But the regulatory changes in the bills are still good and still important.

The current version of the Child Nutrition Act was scheduled to expire today; advocates across the U.S. sent thousands of letters urging the House to take action before the current bill expires.

Today, we learned that the House has delayed a vote on Child Nutrition until after the autumn recess, instead passing a two-month extension of the overall federal budget. According to Jane Black at The Washington Post

A child nutrition bill that was a centerpiece of Michelle Obama's healthful eating campaign stalled in the House on Wednesday after anti-hunger groups and more than 100 Democrats protested the use of food stamp dollars to pay for it.

The bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate this summer, would have mandated strict nutrition standards for all food sold in schools and boosted spending on school meals and other nutrition programs by $4.5 billion over 10 years — the first increase since 1973. The legislation must be reauthorized every five years. In 2009, Congress passed a one-year extension.

What's next? From Obama Foodorama:

The House legislation could be taken up in the lame duck session after the mid-term elections, but even that isn’t certain. The bill was a historic moment in child nutrition history: For the first time in three decades, the non inflationary reimbursement rate for school lunches was increased, and there were all kinds of components that helped improve school-based nutrition programs, as well as other federal feeding initiatives.

In the next two months before the House takes up the vote, we'll to continue advocating for a bill that includes these important changes to school food standards and policy — and funding from a source other than food stamps.  

We’ll see what happens.