Is the New Child Nutrition Bill Strong Enough?

The House Committee on Education and Labor just passed a Child Nutrition Bill. The bill definitely makes some progress, but is it enough?

School nutrition is a topic that we care a lot about. Kids who learn about healthy eating now are more likely to grow into healthy adults. Beyond fighting childhood obesity, healthy food has been shown to help reduce behavioral problems in schools.

So how did the Child Nutrition Bill shake out?

The Good

The bill definitely makes some improvements. It supports farm to school programs, which increases kids’ access to fresh, local produce. It also promises to “establish school gardens and use more local foods in school cafeterias.”

There are several initiatives aimed at fighting hunger and helping impoverished children have better access to healthy food.

The folks at Slow Food USA points out that:

The bill passed yesterday also added a number of amendments, including pilot programs for organic foods, a program that will allow schools to donate excess food to food banks, a new program called Nutrition Corps, and grants to make summer lunch programs more accessible in rural areas.

There’s a focus in the bill on school lunch safety, which is great to hear, too.

The Not So Good

In addressing the quality of school lunches, the bill promises to:

Assist schools in meeting meal requirements proposed by the Institute of Medicine by increasing the reimbursement rate for lunch by 6 cents per meal — the first real increase in over 30 years.

It’s great that they’re giving schools more money, but 6 cents per meal? Is that really an investment in our childrens’ nutrition? That 6 cents brings assistance to a whopping $2.68. I’d like to see the members of the Committee on Education and Labor spend $2.68 on their lunches each day.

If you’re interested in reading all of the proposed changes, you can check out the Child Nutrition Bill in full.

So what do you think? Does the updated bill address enough of your concerns about the state of school lunch? If you want to ask your Congressperson to strengthen the Child Nutrition Bill before it passes, Slow Food makes it easy to send a letter directly to the decision makers in your district.

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by bookgrl

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Becky Striepe is a green blogger and independent crafter with a passion for vintage fabrics. She runs a crafty business, Glue and Glitter, where her mission is to use existing materials in products that help folks reduce their impact without sacrificing style! She specializes in aprons and handmade custom lunch bags.

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3 thoughts on “Is the New Child Nutrition Bill Strong Enough?”

  1. My biggest problem with school lunches is that even though schools may provide access to healthy lunch options like fresh fruit and vegetables, there is still extremely easy access to many unhealthy choices. So simply promising to "increase access to fresh, local produce" doesn't really cut it for me. In addition to increasing access to healthy choices, they also need to restrict access to unhealthy choices at school. If parents want to let their kids bring junk food into school from home, that's one thing…but parents send kids in with lunch money thinking they will get a reasonably nutritious lunch, and they may not even know that kids can by candy and soda with their money. Kids are kids and they will often choose the cookie and soda for lunch instead of the green beans and rice…I know I did, and no one every said a single word about it.

    1. That's an excellent point. Education is so critical in getting kids to make healthy food choices. I really dig the Japanese school lunch program that gets the kids in on preparing the food. What a great way for them to learn to appreciate real food, learn about cooking and nutrition, and encourage them to make better food choices all at the same time!

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