December 2, 2010
On Thursday, December 2, the US House of Representatives passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, otherwise known as the Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) bill, by a vote of 264 to 157. Since the bill is identical to the one passed by the Senate in August, it will now be sent to President Obama for his signature.
Voting on CNR was delayed on Wednesday because Republicans introduced an amendment to the bill that would require background checks for child care workers. That measure was voted down today just before the final vote on the CNR bill.
The bill authorizes $4.5 billion over 10 years to raise the nutritional standards of food in schools. It includes one of NSAC’s top policy priorities for the year, $40 million in mandatory funding for a new Farm to School program run by the USDA.
The Farm to School program, which was authorized in the 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act but never funded, will offer competitive grants to schools or non-profit organizations to develop purchasing relationships with local farmers, plan seasonal menus, build school gardens, develop hands-on nutrition education, and provide solutions to infrastructure problems including storage, transportation, food preparation, and technical training.
“I am so thrilled that the House of Representatives has passed ‘The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act’ – a groundbreaking piece of bipartisan legislation that will significantly improve the quality of meals that children receive at school and will play an integral role in our efforts to combat childhood obesity,” said First Lady Michelle Obama in a statement released just after passage of the bill. Mrs. Obama has advocated strongly for the bill, a key element of her “Let’s Move!” campaign, over the past few months.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Representative Rush Holt (D-12th/NJ)–both of whom introduced bills this year that included $50 million in mandatory funding for Farm to School–worked tirelessly to increase fresh, local, and nutritious produce in schools.
Critics of CNR saw it as an example of government overreach. Sarah Palin went so far as to call the bill a “school cookie ban,” referencing false rumors that the bill would ban bake sales. The bill passed in the Senate by unanimous consent; by contrast, fewer than 20 Republicans broke rank to vote for the bill in the House.
For more information on the bill, see this post from when the Senate passed the bill in August 2010. Click here for the entire archive of posts related to Farm to School and the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill.