This morning, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act into law. This bill will improve the nutritional standards of the National School Lunch Program.
The USDA will set minimum nutritional standards for foods served in schools and increase the amount of reimbursement for each school lunch served by six cents. This is the first reimbursement rate increase in thirty years, aside from increases to keep up with inflation.
The child nutrition act will also help schools get more fresh produce into their lunches. Local foods will be emphasized and help will be available for creating school gardens. This sample menu (pdf format) showing before and after meal plans indicates what the bill is meant to achieve.
More kids will be eligible for the free or reduced-price meal programs. The bill reduces the amount of paperwork required for kids to qualify, in some cases removing the paperwork requirements altogether.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is limited to regulating what the school provides the kids. Bake sales and fundraisers involving food will be eliminated during school hours, but can still go on after school.
Parents can still pack their children’s lunches full of Twinkies, if they so desire. Parents can still send cupcakes to the class for their kid’s birthday. Celebrities can still hand out cookies at school speeches. If any of these things are banned at a school, it’s a decision made on the local level, not federal.
Image by avlxyz, used with Creative Commons license.