(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) applauded the passage of the Child Nutrition reauthorization bill that will expand programs to reduce childhood hunger while promoting healthy eating and addressing child obesity. The bill passed by unanimous consent and allocates $4.5 billion in funding for child nutrition over 10 years.
“The welfare of our nation's children is of the utmost concern to me,” said Senator Murray. “As a parent and former educator, I consider providing our children with nutritious meals that will give them the energy to engage and be active participants within classroom activities a top priority.”
The bill, which was fully offset, expands program access to reduce childhood hunger and promote childhood nutrition by:
Afterschool Meals for At-Risk Children Nationwide
For the vast majority of states, the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) afterschool program only provides reimbursement for a snack for at-risk individuals. This section will allow communities in all 50 states to be reimbursed for a meal. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that by 2015, an additional 21 million meals will be served annually through this provision.
Universal Meal Service through Community Eligibility
This new option will allow schools in high-poverty areas to offer free meals to all students without collecting paper applications, which will expand access to more children and reduce administrative burdens on schools. By 2020, CBO estimates that roughly 2,500 schools will elect to participate.
More Eligible Low-Income Children with School Meals
Children whose families receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are directly certified for free school meals. This provision will expand the direct certification process to include Medicaid in select districts in the U.S. CBO estimates that by 2015, approximately 115,000 students annually will be newly certified for free school meals as a result.
Bonuses for Direct Certification
This section will establish performance benchmarks for states to improve their direct certification methods and provide incentive bonuses to states to encourage improved performance. According to CBO, states will newly certify approximately 4,500 students per year, on average, through this provision.
Enrolling Foster Children for Free School Meals
This section will add foster children to the list of those that are automatically eligible for free meals, eliminating the need for foster children to demonstrate their income when applying for school meal benefits. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 463,000 children were in foster care in 2008.
the Availability and Locations of Summer Meal and Breakfast Sites
Many children do not have access to filling, healthy foods in the summer when they are away from school. This provision will require school food authorities to coordinate with institutions operating the Summer Food Service Program to develop and distribute materials to families to inform them of the availability and location of summer meal sites and school breakfast sites.
Innovative Methods to Provide Nutrition to Hungry, Low-Income Children
The bill provides mandatory funding to test pilot projects to improve methods of providing nutritious foods to hungry children, including during out-of-school times.