CHN: Child Nutrition Programs Reauthorized

The long-stalled Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, S. 3307, which reauthorizes child nutrition programs, was enacted on December 13. It provides $4.5 billion over 10 years for better child nutrition through more afterschool and summer meals, higher reimbursements to school lunch providers, improved administration of WIC and meals programs, including easier enrollment of children, and more funding for WIC program improvements. See a full summary of the bill from the Food Research and Action Center.
S. 3307 passed the Senate by unanimous consent in early August, but the bill faced major hurdles in the House where members took issue with various parts of the bill. House members had supported legislation with more funding and greater expansion of summer food and school breakfast programs and more streamlined procedures to simplify children’s access to food programs. Another major sticking point for some Democrats was the Senate’s use of future SNAP/food stamp cuts to pay for provisions in the bill. S. 3307 terminates in 2013 a temporary boost in SNAP benefits that was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). This is the second cut to the program. The boost was originally supposed to phase out gradually and, if it were not for the two cuts, the increased benefits would have remained in place through 2018. With assurances from the Administration that they will help to restore the SNAP funds, and given widespread recognition that the prospects of passing a child nutrition bill in a Republican-controlled House next year were not good, Democratic leaders managed to secure the votes for passage. On December 2, the House passed the Senate bill, 264-157. Seventeen Republicans voted for the bill and four Democrats voted against it.

Surrounded by House leaders, Senate sponsors, Cabinet members, the First Lady, and in the presence of students and teachers at Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Washington, DC, President Obama signed the bill on December 13.

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