Child nutrition bill passed by Congress despite GOP maneuvering

child nutrition bill

A child nutrition bill was approved by Congress that will spend $4.5 billion over 10 years to feed more children healthy school lunches. Image: CC USDAGov/Flickr

A child nutrition bill was approved by the House and sent to President Obama’s desk today. The $4.5 billion child nutrition bill will feed more poor children with free school lunches and dinners, improve the nutritional quality of school cafeteria meals, get junk food out of school vending machines and require free drinking water. Republicans called the child nutrition bill more big government spending, but Democrats diverted funding from food stamp programs to offset the cost.

In the child nutrition bill

The child nutrition bill was passed by the House on a 264-157 vote. It was approved in the Senate last summer by unanimous consent. The legislation increases government spending on child nutrition by $4.5 billion over 10 years. Federal reimbursements to families for school lunches will increase more than the inflation rate for the first time since 1973. Language in the child nutrition bill gives the secretary of agriculture authority to set standards for meals consumed by school children, including food sold in vending machines. New standards will require schools to serve more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy.

Who supports the child nutrition bill

The food nutrition bill was written with guidance from studies conducted by the National Academy of Sciences and input from children’s advocates as well as the food industry. United in support of the bill were health care, educational and religious groups, along with labor unions and the food, beverage, dairy and supermarket industries. Studies showed that school lunch programs have a major impact on the nation’s health. The bill’s supporters said it could enhance learning, reduce health care costs and help reduce both childhood hunger and obesity.

GOP politicizes child nutrition

Republicans tried to derail the child nutrition bill with a procedural maneuver that would have sent it back to the Senate instead of to the president for a signature. The delay would have denied the outgoing Democratic House an achievement and allowed the GOP to kill the bill with its majority that begins in January.  The Republican party line was that the bill increased federal spending and the government had no business telling families what they should eat. To offset the $4.5 billion cost of the bill, Democrats diverted $2.2 billion from food stamp programs for low-income families. In the end, 15 Republicans crossed the isle to vote for the bill.

Sources

New York Times

Washington Post

NPR

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