The House passed, on an overwhelming 330-99 roll call on Wednesday, a bill that overrides USDA regulations to allow schools to serve whole milk as part of the school lunch program. “Let’s end the war on milk,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx, chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee.
On a vote that largely followed party lines, the Senate on Thursday defeated a Republican attempt to overturn a USDA rule against discrimination in school food programs on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. “This whole exercise is nothing more than a political stunt using children, as I said before, to stoke up their culture wars,” said Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow.
A diverse group of nutrition advocates, environmentalists, medical associations, teachers unions and parent's groups are joining forces to push Congress to make school meals free for all children, regardless of their families' income. Until now, free school meals have been limited to children from low-income families, although rules were relaxed during the Covid-19 pandemic. (No paywall)
All American public school children are currently able to get school meals for free, thanks to temporary waivers that allowed schools to serve free meals during the pandemic. And while those waivers are set to expire at the end of June, the pandemic has served as a trial run for making school meals permanently free for all students, regardless of income.
The USDA would receive nearly $90 billion through the "build back better" bill to mitigate climate change, reduce the risk of wildfires, provide debt relief for economically distressed farmers, and encourage rural economic growth, said the House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday.
House Democrats, acting in concert with President Biden, proposed a $1.75 trillion social welfare and climate change bill on Thursday that would combat global warming by paying farmers up to $25 an acre to grow cover crops on their land during fallow seasons. The bill also would help low-income families buy food for their children during the summer and make nearly 9 million students in high-poverty areas eligible for free school meals.
When it reauthorizes child nutrition programs, Congress should provide meals for free to all students at public schools and offer financial assistance to low-income parents to buy food for their school-age children during the summer and holidays, activists said at a House hearing on Thursday.
The Biden administration’s proposals to expand a summer food program for school-age children and to encourage schools in high-poverty areas to provide meals for free to all students would add an average $4 billion a year to the cost of USDA’s child nutrition programs. Headlined by …