Congress passes child nutrition legislation

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Childhood obesity Nutrition

Congress gave final approval to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 on Thursday, passing the House with a vote of 264 to 157.

The bill, which was championed by Michelle Obama as part of a strategy to combat childhood obesity and hunger, expands the school lunch program, providing better access to healthier foods, including more fruit and vegetables. It sets new standards for cafeteria foods, as well as those sold in vending machines.

First Lady Michelle Obama said in a statement that she was thrilled by the bill’s passage.

“I’m proud of what we’re doing…through our Let’s Move! initiative, and I am confident that, together, we can turn the tide on childhood obesity and give all our children the happy, healthy lives they deserve,”​ she said.

247 Democrats and 17 Republicans voted for the bill, with four Democrats and 153 Republicans voting against.

The $4.5bn legislation is set to get about half its funding from cuts to food stamps – now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP – starting in 2013, and will also increase the federal funds available for school meals above inflation to pay for healthier foods for the first time in 30 years.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) welcomed the bill’s passage, which includes a $10m organic pilot program that the OTA to provide organic choices in school nutrition programs.

OTA’s executive director and CEO Christine Bushway said: “OTA is pleased that this important legislation has passed and very excited that it includes OTA’s proposal for an organic pilot program giving children access to organic foods as part of healthy school feeding programs.”

The bill gained widespread support from health, education, and anti-hunger groups, as well as many major food companies.

Director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest Margo G. Wootan said: “Simultaneously tackling childhood obesity and hunger, this bipartisan bill gets a lot of junk food out of schools and a lot of healthier food into schools.”

The legislation is now headed to President Obama, who has said he will sign it into law.

Related topics Regulation The obesity problem

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