Congress Considers "Against Kids" School Lunch Bill

Congress is considering a bill that would reduces nutritional standards while putting meals further out of reach of the kids who need them the most. By James Price
Congress Considers "Against Kids" School Lunch Bill

School lunch! Boy, does that bring back memories -- some pleasant, many not. But school meals across the country have actually improved in recent years, thanks to a rare moment of bipartisanship in Washington that has been good for kids. Unfortunately, these improvements are at risk.

In 2010, Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that ensured more kids would have access to more nutritious meals. Health experts and educators alike rejoiced. After all, research and common sense tell us that children do better in school when they have a decent meal in their bellies, whether it's breakfast, lunch, or, preferably, both.

Now -- and this is hard to believe, but it's true -- Congress is considering a bill that would undo many of these improvements. The improperly titled Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 (HR 5003) reduces nutritional standards while putting meals further out of reach of the kids who need them the most. The bill, which is supported by Republicans and opposed by Democrats and has already passed through the House education committee, would establish a pilot program in a few states that would:

·      reduce the requirement to provide two meals back down to only one meal at schools in the pilot program, despite evidence that kids who consistently receive breakfast at school perform better academically;

·      remove federal nutrition guidelines;

·      make it harder for qualified schools and families to receive meals support;

·      and set inflexible funding limits on states in the pilot program, preventing schools from being able to adjust to the fluctuating needs of their students.

We're giving this bill an "Against Kids" legislative rating. At a time when more than 15 million kids live in food-insecure households, Congress shouldn't play political games with our kids' food but rather work to strengthen education for all kids. You can read our letter to Congress here.

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