Senate Passage of Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill

Senate Passage of Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill

By Michelle Alletto, MPH
Associate Director, Public Policy & Government Affairs, AMCHP

On August 5, the United States Senate passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 by unanimous consent (for full text of the bill, visit here). The child nutrition reauthorization bill expands eligibility for school meal programs; establishes nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools; and makes changes to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program (see full summary below). The House must now pass its version of the reauthorization language before the programs expire on September 30. To see how the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 coincides with the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity report, visit here. AMCHP will continue to update you on reauthorization as it moves forward. For any questions, please contact Michelle Alletto. 


Highlights of Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (S.3307): From the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.


  • Expanding Afterschool Meals for At-Risk Children Nationwide: For the vast majority of states, the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) at-risk afterschool program only provides reimbursement for a snack. 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.


  • Expanding 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.


  • Connecting 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 Unite States. CBO estimates that by 2015, approximately 115,000 students annually will be newly certified for free school meals as a result.


  • Performance 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.


  • Automatically 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 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 463,000 children were in foster care in 2008.


  • Promoting the Availability and Locations of Summer Meal and Breakfast Sites: 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.


  • Piloting 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.


  • Supporting Breastfeeding in the WIC Program: The fiscal year 2010 agriculture appropriations bill provided mandatory funding for a program to recognize exemplary breastfeeding practices at the WIC clinic and state agency levels. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act permanently authorizes this program within child nutrition law and expands the collection of WIC program data on breastfeeding rates.


  • Allowing WIC to Share Educational Materials with Other Programs: This section permits the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for WIC to share existing informational and educational materials with CACFP providers to reduce administrative burdens on CACFP and harmonize the programs’ educational message to families with young children.


  • Modernizing WIC by Implementing Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT): This change will increase efficiency and reduce participant stigma by transitioning from paper coupons to EBT, as the SNAP has successfully done.


  • Promoting Nutrition and Wellness in Child Care Settings: This section establishes nutrition requirements for child care providers participating in the CACFP and provides guidance and technical assistance to help providers improve the health of young children.