Now’s the Moment to Fund Healthy School Food

March 23, 2010

By Mark Bishop, Deputy Director

For months we've been championing the largest single funding
increase for school food programs ever proposed, with the belief that
this reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act offers the opportunity to make real change for school food. With President Obama calling for significant increases in funding, the First Lady calling for policy changes and funding, and
advocates speaking up across the nation, we feel this is the time to change how we feed kids at school. And we
looked to their proposals as a strong starting point, not a limit: a
floor, not a ceiling.

But the proposal that came out last week
from Sen. Blanche Lincoln, chair of the Senate agricultural committee,
wasn't even a strong floor — it was more like the basement. Over at
Grist, Tom Philpott wrote:

If
Obama can't spare an extra two dimes per day per kid to spend on
ingredients, Lincoln won't even fork over a single extra dime. If
Obama's proposal wouldn't even net an extra apple a day, Lincoln's
would have trouble procuring a single stick of gum — not that school
kids need any more sugar.

The proposal on the table from
Sen. Lincoln is to increase federal funding of school lunches by six
cents per meal, a mere two percent increase. That doesn't even cover
the escalating cost of food. Yet Sen. Lincoln calls this a
“significant increase in funding.” And while that is technically true,
this increase is almost half of what the federal government allocated
last year when they added eleven cents to the federal reimbursement
rate to adjust for cost of food increases.

Right now, we have an incredible opportunity to make real change for school food. With the timing of the every-five-years reauthorization, the launch of the first lady's huge initiative, the support of a president who speaks specifically about prioritizing school food, the momentum building among advocates: Now's our chance to do it right.

We need to invest in our children. We have an opportunity now. We can't let this slip away.
Take action here.