Last week the House passed S. 3307 “The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.” This comprehensive legislation will have a significant impact on the lives of hungry children in our country. Improvements to certification and the additional funding will help reach more children and improve foods available to children. The Act presses forward the President’s objective of eliminating childhood hunger by 2015 as well as the First Lady’s efforts to reign in childhood obesity. On both fronts, we believe one of the most significant aspects of the legislation is the expansion of After School Meals for At-Risk Children. The new legislation provides a significant upgrade to the current snack program, both in terms of nutrients provided and funding available, and can prove a centerpiece in attracting children to after school enrichment programs. We look forward to sharing more information about the After School Meals program in the near future.
We are thrilled that the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act has passed. We see this as a tremendous opportunity to provide more children in need with after school meals. Below are the 8 provisions of this landmark legislation, as described in the USDA’s news release on the Act.
1. Upgrading nutritional standards for school meals by increasing the federal reimbursement rate for school lunches by 6 cents for districts who comply with federal nutrition standards. This is the first real reimbursement rate increase in over 30 years.
2. Improving the nutritional quality of all food in schools by providingUSDA with the authority to set nutritional standards for all foods sold in schools, including in vending machines, the “a la carte” lunch lines, and school stores.
3. Increases the number of eligible children enrolled in the school meals programs by using Medicaid data to directly certify children who meet income requirements without requiring individual applications connecting approximately 115,000 new students to the school meals program.
4. Enhances universal meal access for eligible children in high poverty communities by eliminating paper applications and using census data to determine school wide income eligibility.
5. Provides more meals for at-risk children nationwide by allowing Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) providers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to be reimbursed for providing a meal to at-risk children after school paving the way for an additional 21 million meals to children annually.
6. Empowering parents by requiringschools to make information more readily available to parents about the nutritional quality of school meals, as well as the results of any audits.
7. Improving the quality of foods supplied to schools by buildingon and further advancing the work USDA has been doing to improve the nutritional quality of the commodities that schools get from USDA and use in their lunch and breakfast programs.
8. Improving WIC by making it easier for children to get recertified as eligible for the program, requiring greater use of EBT technology (debit cards), and expanding support for breastfeeding.