Child Nutrition Bill in Senate Reflects Bipartisan Compromise
Statement of CSPI Nutrition Policy Director Margo G. Wootan
A Senate bill that would reauthorize child nutrition programs is a sensible bipartisan compromise that preserves the important progress made in the last five years while giving a bit of flexibility to those school systems that are still finding some of the standards challenging.
The last reauthorization of child nutrition programs, the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, removed soda and most junk food from schools and required more fruits and vegetables on kids’ lunch trays than ever before. Importantly, it set the first-ever targets for reducing sodium in school meals and increasing whole-grains in breads and pastas. The Senate language leaves in place those goals while giving school food service directors additional time to achieve sodium targets and some flexibility on whole grains. The bill also supports healthy school foods through school food service equipment and training and technical assistance, and expands farm-to-school programs.
Given all of the aggressive lobbying against school nutrition over the past few years, it’s remarkable that the new Senate bill is as strong a way forward as it is. It’s our hope that as the draft legislation wends its way through both houses of Congress, it can be managed with the same bipartisan spirit that has characterized the school lunch program since its inception in 1946.