There’s a BIG LIST of new food-related bills in Congress (listed below), but the one generating the most buzz is Blanche Lincoln’s proposed child nutrition bill.

  • S. 3123: Growing Farm to School Programs Act of 2010, introduced by Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) with 13 cosponsors.
  • S. 3124, to reduce the paperwork burden on child care sponsors and providers, introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) with 1 cosponsor.
  • S. 3126, a bill to promote wellness policies by Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN) with no cosponsors.
  • S. 3127 a bill to require continual updating of foods provided under WIC by Sen. Klobuchar (D-MN) with no cosponsors.
  • S. 3128, a bill to make all foster children automatically eligible for free breakfast and lunch by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) with no cosponsors.
  • S. 3129, a bill to change WIC so that once qualified, participants are in the program for a year before they must be re-certified by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand with no cosponsors.
  • H.R. 4734 and S. 3040, a bill to improve summer meal programs by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) and Sen. Lugar (R-IN) with 1 cosponsor in the House and 4 in the Senate.
  • H.R. 4710: Farm to School Improvements Act of 2010 by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) with 17 cosponsors.
  • H.R.4638: The Healthy Start Act, a bill to provide $.05 in federal commodities for school breakfasts by Rep. Herseth-Sandlin (D-SD) with 10 cosponsors.
  • H.R.4148: The Hunger Free Schools Act, a bill to provide direct certification for free breakfast and lunch by Rep. David Loebsack (D-IA) with 21 cosponsors.
  • H.R. 3705: Expand School Meals Act, a bill to expand the number of children eligible for free school meals by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) with 47 cosponsors. (It appears that this bill makes meals free for any children who are currently eligible for reduced cost meals.)
  • H.R. 4402: The Nu­tri­tious Meals for Young Chil­dren Act and S.2749, a bill to improve access to food for young children in child care by Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand with 41 cosponsors in the House and 5 in the Senate.

What will probably happen is that most of these bills will die, and components of them will be folded into whichever bill ultimately becomes law. Lincoln’s bill has a darn good chance of ultimately becoming law. She’s calling for a lot of good things BUT when it comes down to it, school lunch reform is really about money. Lots can be done besides adding money, and money with no other changes won’t fix our problems, but without money, little change can take place. (For example, we can and should improve nutrition standards for lunches, but without giving schools adequate funding, they won’t be able to meet those standards.)

Obama called for $10 billion over 10 years in new money for school lunch, WIC, and other child nutrition programs. That’s actually a piss poor proposal compared to what we need, but Lincoln’s bill offers less than half of that – only $4.5 billion. Worse yet, Lincoln gets her money by stealing from agricultural conservation programs. And that’s a very bad thing.

I’ll continue to follow the school lunch story on my blog so check there for regular updates on this and other food-related issues.

Jill Richardson

Jill Richardson

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