House Child Nutrition Bill Puts Children’s Food Programs at Risk
Washington – The House’s version of a bill that funds children’s food programs – both in and out of school – puts kids’ access to food programs at risk and weakens nutrition standards that help children thrive.
In a letter to House Education and the Workforce Committee Members last week, First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, strongly stated its opposition to the Improving Child Nutrition Education Act of 2016 (H.R. 5003) introduced by Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind.
“Contrary to its title, the House’s nutrition bill detracts, rather than improves, child nutrition standards and access to healthy foods across the country,” said Bruce Lesley, Campaign for Children president. “It’s troubling that with 20 percent of American children living in poverty, lawmakers would try to make it harder for kids to access healthy, nutritious school meals.”
Several provisions included in the bill fall short of common-sense priorities needed to maintain strong nutrition standards and to expand access to healthy meals for students. Under the House’s bill:
- More than 7,000 schools serving 3.4 million students would no longer qualify for the Community Eligibility Provision
- More than 11,000 schools not using the Community Eligibility Provision would also lose eligibility
- Administrative changes to the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) food program place additional burdens on families and providers
- The qualifying threshold to students certified through federal programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) would be significantly raised
- Scientists and public health officials would be shut out from nutrition standards review
- Fundraisers, family meal days, and a la carte items would be exempt from nutrition standards
“This bill is clearly bad for America’s children,” Lesley said. “Children cannot learn and thrive when it becomes increasingly more difficult for them to access healthy foods. Congress should focus on expanding access and nutrition standards rather than continue to put up barriers for kids. It’s not right.”
Children are increasingly vulnerable to economic challenges facing their families. It’s estimated that more than 15.3 million children live in food insecure households today. To read the Campaign for Children’s letter to Congress, click here.
The First Focus Campaign for Children is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization. The Campaign for Children advocates directly for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.campaignforchildren.org.