Stakes are High as Agriculture Committee Considers Child Nutrition Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Committee on Agriculture considers critical legislation that will reauthorize the federal Child Nutrition Program. The legislation, known as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, was recently introduced by committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln (D-AK).

The First Focus Campaign for Children (FFCC), a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, praised the introduction of the legislation as vital to reducing childhood hunger, improving nutritional quality, and modernizing and simplifying existing nutrition programs.

“Chairman Lincoln’s legislation proposes unprecedented investments to make our children healthier both inside and outside of the classroom. It expands the After School Meals Program to all 50 states and takes steps to make school lunches healthier. Further, the Chairman’s ‘mark’ makes children in foster care automatically eligible for free school meals – a critical addition to populations who are ‘categorically eligible’ for assistance. Importantly, Chairman Lincoln’s bill simplifies and reduces paperwork requirements for all Child and Adult Care Food Programs, cutting the red tape associated with providing children meals in day care settings,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the Campaign for Children.

“The Chairman has provided $4.5 billion dollars over 10 years for investments and improvements to crucial children’s programs. While this is not the amount called for by the President’s budget, we applaud Senator Lincoln for this groundbreaking investment that acknowledges the importance of access to nutritious meals. We look forward to working with the Senator as she leads Congress in the fight to reauthorize and secure funds that will eliminate child hunger and reduce childhood obesity,” Lesley added.

The legislation contains critical provisions that establish demonstration projects to expand the "direct certification process," through which school districts use information from state welfare or food stamp offices to certify children to receive free meals. Under the Act, Medicaid children in select Congressional districts would be directly certified, while benchmarks and incentive bonuses for states to improve their direct certification methods would be established.

In addition, the bill includes provisions that provide the Secretary of Agriculture with the authority to establish national nutrition standards for all foods, while also allocating mandatory funding for schools to institute Farm-to-School Programs. In addition, the bill modernizes and improves the successful Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children program by implementing an Electronic Benefit Transfer, while also extending WIC’s current 6 month certification period to a 1 year certification period.

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Nutrition Press Release

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