The Washington Post Supports Increased Funding for School Food

September 23, 2009

By Rochelle Davis, Founding Executive Director

I could not agree more with the recent editorial in The Washington Post in which the Post comes out in support of increased funding for our nation’s federal school food program.  The Post’s editorial board correctly links the issue of school food to Michelle Obama’s efforts to highlight the importance of healthy eating, and correctly links the issue of school food to the long term costs of our already strained health care systems.  

And most importantly, they repeat (though do not quite endorse) Ann Cooper’s call for Congress to increase school food funding an additional dollar per day per student. Currently, schools receive around $2.68 for each free lunch they serve.  According to the School Nutrition Association, school districts spend, on average, about 35 cents more than that.  In large urban areas, school districts are subsidizing school meals at a rate of around 70 cents per meal.  These are the communities in which healthy school food is most essential, where healthy food choices are not as readily available.  Research shows that children living in low-income minority communities — many in large urban school districts — have much higher rates of obesity.

Of course more money, while essential, is not the complete answer. The Post is also correct in identifying the need for updated nutrition standards and the need to allow the USDA to set standards for other food available in schools.  Other important steps include improvements to the commodity program, helping school districts improve kitchen facilities and supporting training for food service staff.

We applaud The Washington Post for their support of this important issue at such a key moment in the movement for healthy school food.

To take action in support of increased funding for better school food, visit HSC’s Child Nutrition Act action center.