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Senate Ag Committee passes child nutrition bill

Senate Ag Committee passes child nutrition bill
Bill expands farm-to-school, emphasizes nutrition and increases flexibility.

The Senate Agriculture Committee on Jan. 20 passed legislation to reauthorize child nutrition programs that modernize the program while continuing to emphasize nutrition and access for vulnerable populations.

The legislation, “Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016,” reforms and reauthorizes child nutrition programs under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act of 1966. 

Specifically, the legislation:

* Improves integrity in school meal programs while ensuring that access to the programs for eligible participants is not compromised.

The Senate Agriculture Committee approved the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act Jan. 20.

* Provides flexibility to school food operators while preserving the intent to provide our nation’s schoolchildren with healthful meals, leading to improved academic performance and healthy eating habits.

* Strengthens the summer meals program through reduced administrative burden and relief of regulations that prevented local innovations.

* Increases efficiency for participants, stakeholders, and related industry, thereby increasing the effectiveness with which these programs use taxpayer resources to serve eligible populations.

* Increases funding for the farm-to-school program from $5 million to $10 million.

“Folks said we couldn’t come to an agreement on child nutrition reauthorization – let alone a bipartisan agreement – but we did. This bipartisan legislation is a true compromise. Not everyone got everything they wanted, but a lot of folks have a lot to be happy about,” said Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

“This bipartisan bill puts the health of America’s children first,” said Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. “We are making sure our children get nutritious meals based on smart, science-based policies to give every child a fair shot at success. The investments made in this bill will give important new resources to fight hunger, from WIC to the summer meals program.”

Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said the Senate bill continues to improve children’s diets and is consistent with USDA’s approach.

“We applaud the Senate's bipartisan progress and urge Congress to reauthorize these programs for our young people without delay,” he said in a media statement.

Source: Senate Agriculture Committee, USDA

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