Latest News

Senate Passes Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill; Action Still Needed in House

September 1, 2010


Senate Passes Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill; Action Still Needed in House

The House of Representatives and Senate must pass a new child nutrition authorization by September 30, 2010, or extend the current law for another year without changes to programs or funding.

More than 5% of all milk consumed in the United States is through the school meal programs authorized by the child nutrition act. USDA/ERS reported that many Americans, both children and adults, are not consuming recommended daily servings of dairy foods. Without school breakfast, lunch, snack, and after-school programs, some children would never drink milk, which provides three of the five nutrients that already fall short in children’s diets (calcium, potassium, and magnesium).

The Senate passed “The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act” in August, which includes $4.5 billion over 10 years in new funding. The bill has provisions supported by NMPF that would increase the reimbursement rate for school lunches by six cents per meal; establish national nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools; expand after-school meals for Child and Adult Care Food Programs (CACFP); and automatically enroll foster children, low income, or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefit children into the free school meals program. The bill allows for a variety of flavors, reduced fat, and non-fat milk to be served in schools. The new funding is largely paid for by reducing SNAP benefit increases in the out years (2012 and beyond). That funding “offset” has prompted strong opposition from anti-hunger advocates, who are vowing to oppose any bill that reduces food stamp benefits.

The House of Representatives has yet to pass its bill, Improving Nutrition for American’s Children Act, which includes $8 billion in new funding, due in part to the offset issue. The House leadership is uncertain of how to pay for the bill’s increases while recognizing the importance of both school feeding programs and family hunger and nutrition benefits. The House bill includes an increase in the Special Milk Program supported by NMPF and the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA). NMPF and IDFA successfully pushed back an effort change the substitute beverage standards and flavored milk option.

Both the House and Senate bills maintain the requirement to offer milk with all school meals, and require milk to be consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This will likely limit school milk to 1% or non-fat varieties, but these fat levels already account for the overwhelming majority of school milk, so the Dietary Guidelines tie-in will not mean much change in practical terms.

NMPF supports the House of Representatives committee bill and the Senate-passed bill and hopes to see final passage as soon as Congress returns from their district work period in mid-September. For more information, please contact Dana Brooks at