The biggest threat to school lunch and school breakfast, the federally funded programs that feed more than 30 million pupils daily, is legislation that doesn't exist at the moment but could easily be proposed as a deficit-cutting tool, says the School Nutrition Association. The group, which speaks for school food directors, put opposition to block grants at the top of its list of congressional goals this year.
With Congress settling into its election year agenda, the School Nutrition Association, speaking for school food directors, says lawmakers should oppose any effort to convert funding for school food programs into block grants.
A three-state test of block grants for school lunch and breakfast programs would short-change schools and lead to less-nutritious meals for students, said a chorus of opponents that included lawmakers, antihunger groups and a group speaking for school food directors. The news conference on Capitol Hill underlined the split between the School Nutrition Association (SNA) and its one-time Republican allies.
The House Education Committee approved a child nutrition bill to slash a program allowing free meals for students at schools in poor neighborhoods and to start a three-state test of block-grants for school food — with a bloc of Tea Party Republicans saying broader change was needed. The bill, HR 5003, was viewed as a partisan attack on broadly popular programs with little chance to become law.
Despite criticism of the idea, the Republican-drawn child nutrition bill filed in the House would curtail sharply the use of a provision that eases the paperwork burden on schools in low-income neighborhoods that provide free meals to all of their students.
In the face of a proposal to curtail a program allowing free school meals for all children in high-poverty areas, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told lawmakers, "It would be unwise to roll back standards, saddle parents and school administrators with more paperwork or weaken assistance to our most vulnerable children."
The Republican-controlled House Education Committee would reduce access to a program that allows schools in high-poverty areas to offer free meals to all of their students, says the School Nutrition Association.
The head of the School Nutrition Association says healthy meals cost money, so the government should pay a higher reimbursement for the work. “For too long, school meal programs have been short-changed,” said Jean Ronnei, president of the group, which represents school food directors. In a …
The Senate Agriculture Committee chairman said he does not plan any increase in spending as part of re-authorizing child nutrition programs that range from school lunch to WIC. Kansas Republican Pat Roberts postponed indefinitely a bill-drafting session, originally scheduled for Thursday, while awaiting Congressional Budget Office estimates of the cost of potential elements of the bill.
Politico’s Helena Bottemiller Evich examined how food companies that were once fighting healthier school-nutrition standards are now embracing them because of profits derived from churning out healthier fare.