The National Milk Producers Federation is applauding the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act (S. 3307) on Thursday. The bill will go to President Obama to be signed into law.

“The health of the nation’s school children will be enhanced by the bill’s requirement that milk be served with each school meal,” said Jerry Kozak, president and chief executive officer of NMPF. “School meals provide an important venue to help assure that children are consuming three servings of low-fat or fat-free milk products that are recommended by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. We are pleased that the bill will improve the nutrition environment in schools by encouraging consumption of healthier foods like milk and milk products.”

The bill, also known as the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act,” passed the Senate in August and includes $4.5 billion over 10 years in new funding. It includes the following provisions that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin implementing after President Obama signs the legislation:

  • Improving school meals by increasing the federal reimbursement rate for school lunches by six cents for districts who comply with federal nutrition standards.
  • Improving the nutritional quality of all food in schools by providing USDA with the authority to set nutritional standards for all foods sold in schools, including in vending machines, the “a la carte” lunch lines, and school stores.
  • Increases the number of eligible children enrolled in the school meals programs by using Medicaid data to directly certify children who meet income requirements without requiring individual applications connecting approximately 115,000 new students to the school meals program.
  • Enhances universal meal access for eligible children in high poverty communities by eliminating paper applications and using census data to determine school wide income eligibility.
  • Provides more meals for at-risk children nationwide by allowing Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) providers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to be reimbursed for providing a meal to at-risk children after school, paving the way for an additional 21 million meals to children annually.
  • Empowering parents by requiring schools to make information more readily available to parents about the nutritional quality of school meals, as well as the results of any audits.
  • Improving the quality of foods supplied to schools by building on and further advancing the work USDA has been doing to improve the nutritional quality of the commodities that schools get from USDA and use in their lunch and breakfast programs.
  • Improving WIC by making it easier for children to get recertified as eligible for the program, requiring greater use of EBT technology (debit cards), and expanding support for breastfeeding.

Source: National Milk Producers Federation