On March 24, 2004 the House voted by an overwhelming margin of 419-5 to reauthorize child nutrition programs through 2008. The Child Nutrition Improvement Act (HR 3873) reauthorizes programs that provide subsidized breakfast, lunch and milk for eligible children, and includes provisions aimed at targeting childhood obesity. The bill enforces nutritional guidelines for all food sold in schools, but does not include provisions proposed by some Democrats to set stricter federal standards for food sold in schools outside of the school lunch program. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has doubled in children ages 6-11 since 1980.
The bill represents an important victory for advocates of low income families. HR 3873 makes it easier for low-income eligible children to receive free or reduced price school lunch, breakfast and milk by simplifying the application procedure. It does not include the more stringent evaluation of applications as proposed by President Bush, but stipulates that schools must concentrate on getting verifications for those families whose incomes are within $100 of eligibility.
The Senate Agriculture Committee will begin working on its version of the bill after a conference agreement on the fiscal year 2005 budget resolution.
For More Information
Food Research and Action Center: Child Nutrition Reauthorization Update