Senate Adopts Historic Improvements for School Foods
Junk Foods Out, Good Foods In, as Child Nutrition Reauthorization Passes in Senate
The United States Senate achieved a rare, bipartisan consensus this afternoon as it passed by unanimous consent child nutrition legislation in advance of the food programs' September 30 expiration date. The legislation, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, increases reimbursements to school systems for lunches, provides more training to help schools serve healthier meals, and strengthens school wellness policies on nutrition and physical activity. Passage of the bill also signals an eventual removal of junk foods from school vending machines, hallways, and elsewhere on the school grounds as it requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set science-based nutrition standards for foods that may be sold.
"The Senate bill changes the school food landscape in ways that are all positive," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "Put simply, it will get junk food out of, and put more healthy food into, America's schools. It preserves the free and reduced-cost meals that many families depend on in an economic downturn. And it supports farmers by improving farm-to-school programs. Chairman Blanche Lincoln and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss deserve credit for forging a bipartisan agreement on the bill and for fighting to secure a vote despite a crowded Senate schedule."
According to CSPI, First Lady Michelle Obama made an important, last-minute push for the bill with a widely noticed op-ed in the Washington Post on Monday, reflecting on her work with children in the White House garden and the Let’s Move campaign to reduce childhood obesity. "The last thing parents need or want is to see the progress they're making at home lost during the school day," Mrs. Obama wrote. "Right now, our country has a major opportunity to make our schools and our children healthier. It's an opportunity we haven't seen in years, and one that is too important to let pass by."
CSPI and other members of a broad coalition of health groups are urging the House to pass its version of the legislation, and then to have the two bills conferenced, before the programs expire on September 30.
Contact Jeff Cronin (jcronin[at]cspinet.org) or Ariana Stone (astone[at]cspinet.org).