President Obama has finally signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (how do they name these things?)
The fact sheet (PDF) on the bill lists what it will do with the additional $4.5 billion in funding (over 10 years), among other actions:
• Gives USDA the authority to set nutritional standards for all foods regularly sold in schools during the school day, including vending machines, the "a la carte" lunch lines, and school stores.
• Provides additional funding to schools that meet updated nutritional standards for federally-subsidized lunches (this is the six cents per meal increase).
• Helps communities establish local farm to school networks, create school gardens, and ensures that more local foods are used in the school setting.
• Expands access to drinking water in schools, particularly during meal times.
• Sets basic standards for school wellness policies including goals for nutrition promotion and education and physical activity.
• Increases the number of eligible children enrolled in school meal programs by approximately 115,000 students ... Helps certify an average additional 4,500 students per year to receive school meals.
• Allows more universal meal access for eligible students in high poverty communities.
The sticking point is the funding. It is to be "borrowed" from an authorized increase in funding for SNAP (food stamps). As I discussed earlier, enrollment in SNAP is rising rapidly, and so are its costs, so the loss of this increase will hurt.
In his signing speech, President Obama explained:
It's also important to note that while this bill is fully paid for, it won't add a dime to the deficit, some of the funding comes from rolling back a temporary increase in food stamp benefits—or SNAP as it's now called—starting in the fall of 2013. I know a number of members of Congress have expressed concerns about this offset being included in the bill, and I'm committed to working with them to restore these funds in the future.
He also said:
Not only am I very proud of the bill, but had I not been able to get this passed, I would be sleeping on the couch.
Mrs. Obama's Let's Move campaign inspired this bill and her leadership had much to do with its enactment. Cheers for this, at last!
This post also appears on foodpolitics.com.