2015-16 Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR)
by Dana Woldow
Every five years, Congress reauthorizes spending for all child nutrition programs, including the School Breakfast, National School Lunch, Child and Adult Care Food, Summer Food Service, and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Programs and WIC. The 2010 Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR), also known as the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, or HHFKA, will expire on September 30, 2015.
The HHFKA vastly improved the quality of school meals, setting limits on calories and sodium, requiring more whole grains, fruit and vegetables, and making it mandatory that students take a fruit or vegetable with their meal. However, Congress only authorized an additional 6 cents per meal to cover the cost of mandated improvements that were estimated to cost far more.
As a result, some school meal programs have reported that they are struggling to make ends meet. In response, the School Nutrition Association, which represents school meal program operators and the school food industry, has called for rolling back parts of the HHFKA including fruit, vegetable, and whole grain requirements, as well as sodium limits and limits on what foods can be sold competitively a la carte. They claim these regulations are only leading to increased waste and that many students don’t like the healthier meals they are now required to serve.
The Senate Agriculture Committee and the House Education and Workforce Committee both lead the reauthorization, working on the legislation and taking input from other members of the Senate and House of Representatives. Their bills will be merged to develop one final bill.
As Congress moves this process forward, it is vital to keep the best interests of children at the forefront of any changes to child nutrition programs.