CHN: Advocates Oppose House Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill
Anti-hunger advocates reacted strongly in opposition to a House Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill introduced last Wednesday, April 20. A statement from the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) said the bill would roll back years of progress, leaving countless children without access to nutritious meals. Analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said the bill could increase food insecurity in high-poverty neighborhoods. Among the major concerns advocates noted is that the bill would weaken the Community Eligibility Provision that allows high-poverty schools to provide free meals to all students. The bill would require that 60 percent of the student body be low-income for the school to qualify, up from the current threshold of 40 percent. If the bill becomes law, 7,000 of the 18,000 schools currently participating in the program would be affected – with over 4 million students – and 11,000 additional schools not currently participating would lose the option to participate in the future.
The bill would also increase school meal verification requirements in ways that would cause eligible student to lose access to free or reduced-price school meals, fail to address shortfalls in the summer food program, create barriers to the efficient operation of the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program and weaken school nutrition standards. Advocates will be urging the House Education and Workforce Committee to make changes to the bill to better address the needs of children. There was no immediate indication of when the House bill might be marked up. The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee approved its version of the bill in January, but there has been no movement on it since then. For more information, see FRAC’s statement opposing the House bill.