Michelle Obama and Child Nutrition Reauthorization

Michelle Obama has added her voice to the many others calling for passage of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill.

A quick recap, if you haven’t been following:

The current bill expires September 30.  The president’s 2011 budget requested $10 billion over 10 years to fund child nutrition.  The money would serve two purposes- increasing participation rates and increasing the quality and nutritional standards of the food being served.  Federal child nutrition programs include the school lunch and breakfast programs, summer and weekend feeding programs, and WIC.

In March, Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AK), chair of the Senate Ag committee introduced the Senate version, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.  It provides $4.5 billion over 10 years in funding.  As of late, she’s been demanding that the bill be brought to the floor (I am certain this has nothing to do with her somewhat dire reelection prospects) for a vote.

In June, Rep. George Miller (D, CA-07), chair of the House Ed and Labor committee introduced the House version, the Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act of 2010.  It provides $8 billion in funding over 10 years, a figure significantly closer to the president’s request.

Both of the bills have made it through committee, and Sen. Harry Reid has even said he wanted to get the Senate version to the floor before the August recess (ahem).  Obama Foodorama, who has been following this in great detail, has fact sheets on both the House and the Senate versions of the bill.

My thoughts?

Between Rep. Miller unveiling his bill with Rachel Ray, Tom Colicchio testifying in front of the House Ed and Labor Committee and Michelle Obama’s op-ed, there’s been plenty of star power directed towards improving child nutrition.  In the case of Michelle Obama, the either bill (the House version would be preferable, as its close to the original $10 billion number) would be an improvement.  And, while at the end of the day, all that matters is that we get a bill, I do wish that she had lent her voice earlier.  Coupled with some extra push by the administration, perhaps we could have gotten the full $10 billion.

*full disclosure: as I’ve mentioned, I work for an organization that deals in food policy, and we have been actively campaigning for the passage of a child nutrition reauthorization bill, preferably the House version.

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