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From the Kitchen to the Congress: A Child Nutrition Reauthorization Blog

Where do we stand? Questions on Reauthorization...

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There are a lot of questions out there about child nutrition reauthorization - let's try to answer a few of them. Got one that is not answered here? Please post it below as a comment and we will answer that one too!

Q. When will it happen? What is the timeframe for child nutrition reauthorization?

A. Back in 2004 the child nutrition programs were reauthorized through September 30th, 2009. That means they will need to be reauthorized again before late September to prevent the programs from ending. That being said,  it is possible for Congress to pass a bill extending the current authorization for a month or a few months, or more, if they have not completed the new reauthorization bill. That has happened before - in fact in the programs were set to expire in September 2003, and the reauthorization bill at the time was not complete. Congress extended the existing legislation several times before completing the reauthorization process almost a year later on June 30, 2004. it remains to be seen what will happen in 2009 - however Congressional leaders and staff in both the Senate and the House have expressed a desire to reauthorize the programs on time before the deadline of September 30th this year. 

Q. How much "new" money has been set aside for the child nutrition reauthorization bill?

A. The process is still early and budget resolutions have yet to pass the House and Senate. The Child Nutrition Forum, a coalition led by SNA and the Food Research and Action Center, are advocating that $20 billion over 5 years be set aside as new funding for the federal child nutrition programs including the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, CACFP, SFSP, WIC and others.   

Q. What are SNA's top priorities for reauthorization this year?

A. SNA's top priorities for reauthorization are outlined in the Association's 2009 Legislative Issue Paper released earlier this week. They include increasing the per meal reimbursement by 35 cents for all meals in order to keep pace with rising costs and implementing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans; updating the Federal meal reimbursement rates semi-annually; expanding the “free” meal category from 130% of poverty to 185%, consistent with the WIC income eligibility guidelines; providing 10 cents in USDA commodities for each school breakfast served; granting the Secretary of Agriculture the statutory authority to regulate the sale of all foods and beverages on the school campus, consistent with the most recent edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans; and requiring the Department to implement a consistent, science-based national interpretation of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for all school meals reimbursed by USDA.

Q. What about other priorities like foodservice equipment and nutrition education?

A. During reauthorization years SNA also develops a Legislative Issue Paper Addendum that includes additional goals for the Association. This document is in development and will be released soon however you can still provide input on what other issues should be address. Log-in and post those ideas to the comment section below.

Q. Does SNA work with other groups to build support for these legislative goals?

A. Yes. SNA actively participates in the Child Nutrition Forum and the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity, two national coalitions of hundreds of organizations that address the health, nutrition, anti-hunger, education and labor issues relating to the child nutrition programs. State associations, school nutrition programs, and other groups are encouraged to sign-on to the Forum's Statement of Principles for reauthorization.

Q. How does the economic stimulus legislation relate to child nutrition reauthorization?

A. The economic recovery (stimulus) package is legislation independent of reauthorization. SNA and school nutrition professionals are advocating for increased school meal funding through the stimulus package to address the increased demand for access to healthy meals from families and children who have been affected by the economic downturn. Stimulus funding is also being sought to offset the increased price of food and other cost increases being felt by school nutrition programs.  

Q. How can I become involved in child nutrition reauthorization?

A. Your energy and voice are needed to make this reauthorization process a successful one. You can:

  • Come to the SNA Legislative Action Conference March 1 to 4, 2009, to learn the issues and talk to your Members of Congress;
  • Sign your organization or group on to the Child Nutrition Forum's Statement of Principles
  • Contact your Members of Congress about the issues and explain the challenges faced by school nutrition each day;
  • Spread the word to parents, staff, colleagues, friends and family - this is a group effort! Email this blog/web page to friends by clicking on the 'Email this' button to the right.

Didn't see your question answered here? Log in and post it to the comment section below along with your ideas for the Legislative Issue Paper Addendum.