Congressman Garamendi Votes to Prevent Child Hunger and Obesity
Local Food Banks Urge Action to Change SNAP Provision
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA), a father of six and grandfather of ten, today voted for S.3307, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which contains the most significant improvements to child nutrition programs in more than 30 years – providing $4.5 billion in new assistance over ten years.
"As a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia, I witnessed firsthand what happens when children don’t have access to reliable and nutritious food. No child in America, the richest country on Earth, should be deprived of food that nourishes them and allows them to be productive members of our society," Congressman Garamendi said. "We have a moral obligation to make sure every child has food on the table. This bill puts children first, helping to end childhood hunger and obesity."
"We are thrilled that Congress has passed this bill that will provide nutritious food to millions of children. We are especially grateful to Education and Labor Committee Chairman Miller for his leadership in steering the child nutrition bill to final passage and to Congressman Garamendi for his support," said Larry Sly, Executive Director of the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. "We urge Congressional leaders and the Administration to now work to replace the SNAP offset used to partially pay for the bill.”
"Today’s passage of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization is a big step toward meeting President Obama’s goal of eliminating child hunger by 2015. Our congressional representatives have ensured that children will have more access to the food they need during the school day," said Suzan Bateson, Executive Director of the Alameda Community Food Bank. "However, it is critical during this lame duck session that Congress fixes SNAP cuts included in this bill so that we’re not cutting children’s dinners to pay for their lunches."
The bill is partially paid for by $2.2 billion in future cuts to temporary enhanced benefits provided to SNAP (food stamp) participants through the Recovery Act. Congressman Garamendi and many other House Democrats strongly object to the future cut in SNAP but strongly support House passage of S. 3307 because the child nutrition policy improvements are too significant and the child health challenges are too great to let this opportunity pass. This SNAP offset would eliminate the temporary benefit increase to households, beginning in November 2013. Many of the improvements in S. 3307 take effect before these SNAP cuts would be implemented, and House Leaders are reassured by a commitment from President Obama to work with Congress to replace this offset before these SNAP cuts take place.
The bill focuses on ending childhood hunger and obesity. It will:
- Improve the nutritional quality of meals to promote children’s health and reduce childhood obesity;
- Increase access to child nutrition programs to reduce childhood hunger; and
- Protect U.S. taxpayers by strengthening program management and integrity.
Below is an overview of some of the legislation’s key provisions.
Focusing on Nutrition Quality to Improve Children’s Health and Reduce Childhood Obesity
- Improves the nutritional quality of school meals by increasing the federal reimbursement rate for school lunches for school districts that comply with federal nutrition standards – the first reimbursement rate increase in more than 30 years. An additional 6 cents per meal will help schools meet new meal standards to provide children with healthier school meals.
- Requires the Agriculture Department to develop science-based nutrition standards for all foods sold on a school campus during the school day – which will lead to significantly reducing the availability of high calorie junk foods and sugary beverages on school campuses.
- Promotes nutrition and wellness in child care settings by establishing nutrition requirements for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) (which includes providing meals to young children in preschool settings, such as child care centers and home-based child care, as well as to children participating in after-school programs) and providing guidance and technical assistance to support healthy child care settings.
- Connects more children to healthy produce from local farms by helping communities establish farm-to-school programs, create school gardens and use more local foods in school cafeterias.
- Strengthens local wellness policies to help schools, communities and parents identify and implement strategies to make a real difference in helping children to develop healthy behaviors when they’re away from home.
Improving Access to Child Nutrition Programs to Reduce Childhood Hunger
- Increases the number of eligible children enrolled in school meals programs by using Medicaid data to directly certify children who meet income requirements without requiring household applications. This provision is estimated to connect about 115,000 new students to the school meal programs.
- Connects more children with school meals by setting benchmarks for states to improve their direct certification of children (rather than requiring household applications). Incentive bonuses will encourage improved performance. This provision is estimated to connect an additional 4,500 students per year, on average, to the school meal programs.
- Expands the after-school supper program for at-risk children nationwide, by allowing the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) providers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to be reimbursed for providing a meal to at-risk children after school. This provision is estimated to provide an additional 21 million meals to at-risk children annually.
- Enhances universal meal access for eligible children in high poverty communities by eliminating paper applications and using census data to determine school-wide income eligibility.
- Encourages innovative methods to provide meals to children through pilot projects in- and out-of school.
Improving Program Management and Program Integrity
- Supports schools’ food service budgets by preventing unrelated expenses from being charged to school food service accounts.
- Establishes professional standards and training opportunities for school food service providers.
- Improves food safety requirements for school meals by improving recall procedures and extending existing food safety requirements to all places where school meals are prepared or served.
- Increases efficiency and modernizes the WIC program by transitioning from paper food vouchers to an electronic benefit program.
- Streamlines program administration by reducing paperwork for CACFP (Child and Adult Care Food Program) providers. Sponsors will have greater flexibility with their administrative funds, be freed from duplicative paperwork requirements and freed from wasteful monitoring practices.
- Provides for greater information sharing between WIC and CACFP providers in order to reduce administrative burdens for CACFP providers.