Last Thursday the House of Representatives reauthorized federal child nutrition programs by passing the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Like most good legislation, this bill has a lot of strengths and a few weaknesses.
The Act makes it easier to enroll low-income kids in free or low-cost school meals. It allows the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to restrict junk food in schools. And it offers financial support to innovative programs like Farm to School. These are huge victories for kids.
Unfortunately, the bill takes funds from Food Stamp benefits to pay for improvements in child nutrition programs. This leaves many low-income families with a serious drop in food dollars on the horizon.
While the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act has this and a few other serious flaws, we can’t forget all of the good that this bill will do, or all of the work that went into getting it passed.
We would like to thank Congressmen Rick Larsen and Jim McDermott for their invaluable contributions to the debate over child nutrition reauthorization and their dogged determination to get a strong bill passed. We would also like to thank Congressman Dave Reichert for his support of the bill. He, along with 16 other Republicans, crossed party lines to vote for the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. We salute him for refusing to play politics with the future of Washington’s children. Reps. Brian Baird, Norm Dicks, Jay Inslee, and Adam Smith also voted yes on the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.
As advocates, our work is never done. Click here to send a thank-you to your congressional representative and urge them to fix the cut to the food stamp program before the end of the year.
For in-depth highlights of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, please see this summary by the Food Research and Action Center.