CFPA Response to Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill
1.22.2016 On Wednesday, January 20, the Senate Agriculture Committee passed a bipartisan child nutrition reauthorization bill, The Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016. The bill proposes changes to the federal child nutrition programs, including the school lunch and breakfast programs, the Summer Food Service Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and WIC.
Read the full Senate bill. PDF
California Food Policy Advocates (CFPA) is optimistic about the many program improvements put forward in the bill. We also recognize opportunities for the bill to go further in improving the reach and positive effects of the federal nutrition programs across California.
CFPA commends the Committee for several of the bill's provisions:
- Keeping science-based school nutrition standards largely intact, preserving improvements to fruit, vegetable, and competitive food requirements. However, the bill directs USDA to reduce requirements for whole grains and delay the implementation of sodium reductions.
- Investing in the modernization of school food service facilities and equipment. The bill provides $30 million per year for school equipment grants and establishes a loan program to finance improvements to infrastructure and equipment.
- Allowing for the reimbursement of an additional snack through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) for children in care for nine or more hours per day. However, the bill does not allow for the reimbursement of a full third meal.
- Providing Summer EBT benefits to low-income households with children. However, the benefit is limited to states that choose to offer Summer EBT and have implemented WIC EBT systems. The benefits are also limited to a small number of children, beginning with a national total of 235,000 in 2018.
Building upon the promising foundation laid by this Senate bill, we call on Congress to:
- Expand Summer EBT to substantively reduce hunger and improve nutrition. Summer EBT is a well-tested strategy that can help close California's persistent summer nutrition gap, which affects nearly two million low-income children across our state. To reach more children in need, the cap on the number of Summer EBT participants should be raised. To allow for the most effective use of benefits, Summer EBT should not be limited to states that have implemented WIC EBT systems.
- Allow an additional meal for children in child care for nine or more hours. While the Senate bill authorizes an additional snack for children in care for nine or more hours, it falls short by not allowing a third reimbursable meal. California is home to nearly three million children under the age of six; 24 percent of whom live in poverty. These children -- including those in child care for long hours -- deserve access to nutritious meals and snacks throughout the day.
- Strengthen existing direct certification requirements and expand Medi-Cal (Medicaid) direct certification. The Senate bill dramatically changes the process by which student eligibility for school meals is verified. Any increase to the burden on households to provide verification information could result in eligible students losing access to school meals. We recognize the need to uphold program integrity. In that vein, strengthening and expanding direct certification would improve the accuracy of eligibility determinations while increasing access to school meals for eligible children.
In the coming days and weeks, CFPA will continue to monitor the progress of child nutrition reauthorization, respond to the shifting landscape, and advocate improvements to the bill that are in the best interest of California kids. As the Senate bill moves to the floor, please stay tuned for calls to action on this important legislation!
Interested in more details on the many provisions in the bill? Read the Senate bill analysis from our partners at the Food Research & Action Center. link
Questions? Contact Anna Colby at 213.482.8200 ext. 204