Companion bills introduced in the House and Senate would make it easier for schools to buy locally produced foods to serve to their students, said sponsors on Thursday.
Nearly 13.6 million students are now receiving free breakfast and lunch through the community eligibility program, a federal initiative that has previously been targeted for cuts by Republicans, according to a new report. That figure is a 14-percent increase in the past year alone.
After warning against saddling small schools with big-city regulations, Senate Agriculture chairman Pat Roberts said on Wednesday that Congress could act swiftly on the overdue renewal of child nutrition programs. The programs, headlined by school lunch and WIC, cost $30 billion a year.
Although key lawmakers in the House and Senate support an update of U.S. child nutrition programs, headlined by school lunch and WIC, the timeline for those updates is unclear. “If we can’t go forward, we’ll wait,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow on Thursday, in a reference to disputes over school food standards.
Two of the major public nutrition programs, SNAP and WIC, could run out of money if the partial government shutdown persists into February and beyond, affecting millions of people. While the USDA says funding is assured for this month, it is not as clear about what to expect in the future.
In 2017, on just his sixth day in office, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue made chocolate milk safe for schools again, along with white flour and salt, in the name of “regulatory flexibility” for school food programs. On Thursday, the USDA said it will make those changes permanent.
Two nutrition advocates whose focus on maternal and child nutrition helped reduce the number of stunted children in the world by 10 million in five years are the winners of the World Food Prize for 2018, the award’s sponsor announced on Monday.
About half as many children take part in the school breakfast program as the more than 30 million who eat a hot meal through the school lunch program, according to USDA's most recent data. The government and the anti-hunger group Food Research and Action Center say that participation in school breakfast grew at a slower rate during the 2016-17 school year than it did in previous years.
Declaring it “a major step forward” for food service workers, the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service released its first mobile app, which the agency said will make it easier to serve healthy and tasty meals through its child nutrition programs.