Today, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 into law. The bill is intended to fight hunger and address obesity in school-aged children. Want to learn more about the Hunger-Free Kids Act? Keep reading for details on this important child nutrition bill.
Seemingly conflicting, both hunger and obesity are a serious problem for many school-aged children. With the support and encouragement of Mrs. Obama, President Obama appeared at Harriet Tubman Elementary school in Washington, DC, today and signed an important child nutrition bill, formally called the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
The specifics of the law
According to a White House Press Release, “The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 authorizes funding for federal school meal and child nutrition programs and increases access to healthy food for low-income children. The bill that reauthorizes [this] program is often referred to by shorthand as the child nutrition reauthorization bill. This particular bill reauthorizes child nutrition programs for five years and includes $4.5 billion in new funding for these programs over 10 years.”
While it doesn’t seem like much, one of the highlights of the bill is that it will provide an additional six cents of funding for each meal that is provided to students through the school lunch program. While that is literally pennies and it may sound insignificant, it’s not! Keep reading.
The statistics are staggering. Over 31 million children eat meals at school as a result of the school lunch program. According to the White House, many children receive all of their daily meals at school on school days. Additionally, one out of every three children is overweight.
Fighting hunger while addressing obesity
Because so many children live in food insecure households and rely on school to provide their food, it’s obviously extremely important to continue the school lunch program. Without it, more children would go hungry — or at least hungrier.
However, the fact that so many children are reliant on the school lunch program also means that the quality of food matters, given the rising obesity epidemic among children in the United States.
Effect of the child nutrition bill
The bill makes many changes and improvements to the school lunch program. Following are a few of the highlights.
- Food sold in schools must meet the nutritional standards that the USDA has the authority to set. Included is food sold in school stores, lunch lines and (finally!) vending machines.
- Schools that meet nutritional standards will receive increased funding. This is the first rate increase for the school lunch program in over 30 years.
- 115,000 additional students will be eligible to enroll in the school lunch program. Children who meet income requirements will be directly certified through Medicaid data.
- Children who live in high poverty communities will have more universal access. Census-data will be reviewed and used to determine “school-wide income eligibility,” meaning children at those schools would not have to fill out paperwork to receive approval.
- The program will be monitored more carefully. School districts will undergo audits every three years to ensure and improve compliance with nutritional standards.
What will school lunches look like?
In addition to expanding the program to make it available to more children, the quality and types of food that are included in the school lunch program will change. More vegetables, fruits and whole grains will be offered to children.
Now, about those six cents. Does such a small amount really matter? An article on MSN Health sums is up quite well: “While an additional 6 cents per meal doesn’t sound like much, it can make the difference between a real apple or sugary processed applesauce, or a slice of whole wheat bread and a white slice.” So, yes, it matters!
>>While this was a bipartisan triumph, there has been a bit of criticism buzzing around the web. What do you think about the child nutrition bill? Are you happy that the Hunger-Free Kids Act passed? Why or why not? Weight in the comments section below.