Congress revisits child nutrition program legislation approximately every five years in a single omnibus bill known as the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act, or Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization for short (CNR). CNR authorizes all of the federal child nutrition programs, such as the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Child and Adult Care Food, Summer Food Service, and WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) programs.
The last CNR – known as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 – included the most significant changes to child nutrition programs since the 1970s. The 2010 CNR expanded children’s access to nutritious meals and snacks, improved the nutritional quality for school food, supported healthier school environments, and increased nutrition and food system education. It also provided mandatory funding to the USDA Farm to School Grant Program for the first time.
In 2015, during the 114th Congress, efforts began to rewrite and reauthorize CNR. In the end, however, the legislative process fell apart in both 2015 and 2016 – with Congress failing to pass a new CNR. Thankfully, while CNR traditionally gets revised every five years, it does not necessarily have to be reauthorized, as most of the program authorizations are permanent or have been extended through the annual appropriations process. As of 2022, Congress has not yet begun formal reauthorization proceedings or announced a firm timeline.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is taking steps regardless to ensure that the next CNR strengthens farm to school and local food sourcing at schools and other educational and child care settings across the country.
The National Farm to School Network (NFSN) and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) are partnering to advance farm to school priorities in the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act with the shared goal of supporting stronger communities, healthier children and resilient farms.