Last week, the Senate Agriculture Committee decided it would table discussion on a bill to renew child nutrition programs until next year. The House already had made a similar decision earlier.

The move means that reauthorization of school-lunch programs and WIC must now wait until 2004. Although the school-lunch program is permanent, several other children’s nutrition programs are not, therefore a stop-gap bill will need to be passed in order to extend current programs until legislation to reauthorize all of the programs can be addressed in 2004.

Also in the news on school lunches is a USDA report that shows more fruits and vegetables are being purchased for school lunches. The goal of the additional purchases is to put more healthy food options in front of kids in hopes that they will select them over junk food, which could help stem the increase in obesity in kids.

For the budget year that ended on September 30, USDA purchased 973 million pounds of fruits and vegetables. That is an increase of 22 percent more than in 2002, and an increase of 38 percent compared to 1999. Needless to say, the report has lobbyists for other food groups stepping up their efforts.