Advocacy

Background on Child Nutrition in Schools

Elementary school children eating in a cafeteria

Houston ISD/Dave Einsel: http://www.houstonisd.org

Reauthorizing School Nutrition Legislation Is Crucial to Help Children Succeed 

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 reauthorized the Child Nutrition Act of 1966, both of which got their start with the National School Lunch Act of 1946. HHFKA provides funding for federal school meal and child nutrition programs.

HHFKA reauthorizes, until September 30, 2015, six major nutrition programs:

  • the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs
  • the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
  • the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)
  • the Summer Food Service Program
  • the Afterschool Meal Program
  • the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed)

HHFKA addresses childhood hunger by:

  • expanding after-school meal programs for at-risk children;
  • expanding universal meal service in high-poverty areas through community eligibility; and
  • connecting more low-income children with school meals by expanding direct certification.

HHFKA addresses obesity and overall student health by:

  • establishing national nutrition standards for all foods sold in school during the school day, including a la carte lines and vending machines (fundraisers such as bake sales held outside the school day are exempt);
  • requiring schools and districts to improve reporting for local school wellness policies and school food safety programs; and
  • requiring training and certification for local food service providers in nutrition, health and food safety standards and methods.

Since HHFKA became law in 2010, new legislation seeks to address federal mandates on school meals programs. HR 1504 would restore local flexibility and authority to school districts struggling to comply with some HHFKA provisions.

The bill makes permanent USDA's temporary easing of meat and grain meal portion limits, which left many students feeling hungry during the school day.

In addition, H.R. 1504 would give administrators flexibility on some rules that result in increased costs to school districts, students, and their families, including on:

  • competitive food standards;
  • school breakfast; and
  • paid meal prices.

The proposed legislation specifies that if schools are unable to comply with these new rules because of costs, they would be subject to the standards in place before the newly implemented regulations (or prior to the 2012 school year). HR 1504 has been referred to the House Education and Workforce Committee.

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