Today, the House passed the $4.5 billion Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act 2010. The legislation, a foundational piece of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, will reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act through 2015, impacting all children who participate in federal nutrition programs, more than 31 million people nation wide.
The bill will improve the quality of school and child care facility meals; increase the number of available healthy meals, making it possible for more needy children to apply for federal nutrition programs; and provide a historic increase in in the Federal reimbursement rate for school lunches. It will also help schools use more fresh fruit, veggies and local foods by creating farm to school networks and creating school gardens.
Sounds good so far, right? There’s more.
For the first time ever, schools will have to apply nutritional standards set by the USDA to foods served outside of the cafeteria, which means no more machines or vendors selling junk food and sugary drinks. This last bit also means eliminating typical sports events foods and community building and fundraising traditions like bakes sales.
Critics question whether the federal government should set standards on what schools can or cannot serve. Even Sarah Palin had something to say about it. In a recent radio interview, after bringing cookies to a speech at a Pennsylvania school, Palin said, “Take her [Michelle Obama] anti-obesity thing that she is on. She is on this kick, right. What she is telling us is she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat… Just leave us alone, get off our back, and allow us as individuals to exercise our own God-given rights to make our own decisions and then our country gets back on the right track.”
Palin—and bakes sales—are not the only issue. Despite unanimous, bipartisan approval by the Senate in August, things didn’t move quite so smoothly in the House. Just the other day, House Republicans who claim the bill is burdensome for schools threatened to force a procedural vote, a move widely perceived as a political play to delay the bill.
Clearly, their efforts didn’t prevail. The groundbreaking bill is on its way to President Obama’s desk as I type. And I couldn’t be happier. You can also see what our friends at Strollerderby think of this new child nutrition legislation.
What do YOU think? Is this good news to celebrate or do you have concerns that the government is getting involved where it shouldn’t?
Take a look at the summary of the legislation.
Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America