Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced Senate passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act – the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act – calling the legislation, “a step in the right direction, but not a big enough step.” The overhaul of the child nutrition programs includes a number of measures that Senator Gillibrand pushed for, including an increase in the reimbursement rate for schools, new regulation to eliminate junk food, major expansion of access to include all foster children, and new protections to ensure the safety of food served at schools.
“After failing for many years to take any steps to reduce child obesity, today marks a step in the right direction, but not a big enough step,” Senator Gillibrand said. “The legislation rids schools of junk food, issues proper alerts to schools when contaminations occur, guarantees all foster children access to school meals, connects farms to schools to supply them with fresh, local produce, and strengthens nutrition resources for children and young mothers. But if our children are ever going to truly succeed in the classroom and beyond, they need better access to healthy meals in the lunchroom, and this legislation falls short of that goal. Further, I’m disappointed that the bill is paid for in part with future funds from the critically important SNAP program. I will continue to fight for more common sense changes to the program and secure the investments we need to make sure every child can achieve their full potential.”
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act includes the following provisions that Senator Gillibrand pushed for:
- The Safe Food for Schools Act that ensures the safety of school meals by improving the system for notifying schools when food has been recalled;
- Increases the reimbursement rate for school meals by six cents – the largest increase in history;
- Ensures regular updates of nutritional standards for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program;
- Streamlines WIC enrollment by allowing state WIC agencies to certify mothers every year instead of every 6 months;
- Expands access to the School Lunch program to all foster children;
- Eliminates junk food from schools enrolled in the national School Lunch program, and establishes national nutritional standards for schools that are not, ensuring all schools observe nutrition standards consistent with the dietary guidelines of the School Lunch program – standards that have not been updated since the Carter Administration; and
- $50 million for the Farm-to-School initiative that connects schools with locally-produced fresh fruits, vegetables and value-added products like pre-sliced apples and carrots.