Senator Stabenow Announces Five Year, Bipartisan Child Nutrition Reauthorization

Stabenow Efforts Protect Crucial Nutrition Standards; Expand Farm to School, Summer Meal Program, WIC

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today announced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize our nation’s child nutrition programs for five years. The bill, co-authored by Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS), continues to build on the crucial nutrition policies put in place under the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010.

Following today’s bill release, the Senate Agriculture Committee also passed the bill out of Committee by voice vote.

“Michigan’s children and families are depending on Congress to get this right,” Stabenow said. “Our country is battling an epidemic on two fronts: childhood obesity and childhood hunger. These challenges have the potential to wreak havoc on our economy and national security. If we want our next generation to be fit to succeed, then we must move forward with the strong nutrition policies put in place five years ago.

“Once again, the Senate Agriculture Committee is coming together in a bipartisan way to get things done,” Stabenow said. “I want to thank Chairman Roberts for his efforts on this bill and urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass this important legislation immediately.”

The Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016 would make important investments in programs that support working families across Michigan as well as the State’s more than 1.5 million school children.

Specifically, the legislation:

Protects crucial nutrition standards: With one in three children nationwide either overweight or obese, it’s critical that we keep moving forward with strong nutrition policies. The legislation would keep in place requirements that a half-cup of fruit or vegetable be provided with meals as well as makes additional financial resources available to schools to help transition menus to include more fresh ingredients. The legislation protects the science-based nutrition standards while providing flexibility in the area of whole gains and some additional time for schools to phase in sodium reductions in food.

Strengthens support for mothers and infants: The bill expands the WIC program to ensure that children up to the age of six who are currently not enrolled in full day Kindergarten can continue receiving nutritional supplement through the WIC program. Currently, children lose this added nutritional supplement at age five regardless of educational enrollment – which could also mean the loss of a possible meal.

Expands access to summer meals: Michigan has nearly 600,000 students who receive free or reduced meals during the school year, however, only about 13 percent receive that meal in the summer months. To help close this gap, the legislation helps States to expand current summer meals programs and provides new tools to target communities where children are not being reached.

Supports working families: To help support Michigan families with children enrolled in daycare or afterschool care programs, the legislation would provide an additional snack to children who stay at daycare for nine hours or more per day.

Grows Farm to School: Michigan is blessed with its diversity of agriculture. To help support our state’s farmers and producers, the legislation expands the national Farm to School program to help keep more locally grown produce in our school cafeterias.

A copy of the legislation can be found: LEGISLATION LINK.