Child Nutrition Bill Passes!

After a more than a year of campaigning, Slow Food USA is pleased to announce that the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act was passed in late November with some positive amendments. While there were significant and frustrating compromises made along the way, the act will help significantly to ensure American children are served improved, healthier meals in their school canteens. 

Slow Food USA launched the Time for Lunch campaign in the summer of 2009, when 300 ‘Eat-Ins’ were held across the 50 states to lobby for better food for the more than 31 million children who eat at school everyday, and to lobby the American Congress to take serious action to prevent child obesity and health problems in its revision of the Child Nutrition Act. Following this, more than 160,000 people joined their campaign, signing the online petition, and emailing and calling their local legislators. 

Ultimately 1,350 organizations ranging from Feeding America to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to Slow Food USA joined together in a letter to the House of Representatives urging them to pass the bill before the end of the year. 

While the bill falls short of the groups hopes, Slow Food USA points out the following useful gains:

More money! While 6 cents doesn’t sound like very much – and is far short of the dollar we campaigned for early on – it represents the first non-inflationary increase made in sixty years. School nutrition directors struggle to get food on trays at the current rate. More money, no matter how little, is essential.

Better nutrition standards. In the past there have been all kinds of food sold on school campuses that is exempt from meeting nutrition guidelines. This bill sets out a plan for improved standards overall as well as requirements for all food – not just food in the lunch line – to meet those standards.

Money for local sourcing. This bill makes mandatory $50 million in funding for a competitive grant program supporting Farm to School programs at USDA. Farm to school programs work to get local food into cafeterias as well as to educate students about how food gets from the farm to their plates, cultivating long-term healthy eating habits.

Access. Includes changes that will make it less bureaucratic and complicated for low-income students to qualify and get registered for free and reduced lunch.

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