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.
In the spring of 2019 Congress signaled that they would once again be turning to CNR and attempting to put together a new 5 year bill during the 116th Congress. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is taking steps now 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.
Interested in learning how you can advocate for farm to school and local procurement? Sign-on to NSAC and the National Farm to School Network’s (NFSN) organizational endorsement letter and express your support for the Farm to School Act of 2019 and the Kids Eat Local Act, or give your Member of Congress a call!
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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.