No More Lunch Lines for Child Nutrition: It Just Became Law

>Today Barack Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (also known as the child nutrition bill) into law at Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Washington, D.C., The Washington Post reports. The House of Representatives passed the bill on December 2 with a vote of 264-157, clearing the way for Obama's signature this morning.

Democrats, especially Michelle Obama, have lobbied for the legislation for months. They initially feared that obstacles would derail it, as with the still-lurching food safety bill, but U.S. children will soon know a new law of the lunchroom:

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act will expand the number of children in school lunch programs by 115,000, increase the reimbursement rate to school districts for meals by six cents and replace the junk food available outside the cafeteria, such as in vending machines, with more healthful options.

The $4.5 billion expansion of the school lunch program, which feeds 16 million children, gained bipartisan support in the Senate, yet initially stalled in the House before passing mostly along party lines. Republicans balked at the cost and constraints of the bill.

Before supporting the law, liberal Democrats needed assurance from the White House that the $2 billion cut from the food stamp program to fund it would be restored.

"While we may sometimes have our differences, we can all agree that in the United States of America, no child should go to school hungry," Michelle Obama said Monday. "All children should have the basic nutrition they need to learn and grow. . . . Our hopes for their future should drive every decision we make."

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

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John Hendel is a writer based in Washington, DC, and a former producer at The Atlantic.

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