Be Our Voice Blog

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

Childhood Nutrition Reauthorization Signed Into Law

Posted by: Erin Ellingwood


On December 13th, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, also known as the Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR). NICHQ joins with our friends and partners at the RWJF Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity in celebrating the passage of this landmark legislation.

Dr. Dwayne Proctor, Director of the Childhood Obesity Program Management Team at RWJF   summarized the magnitude of this legislation: “This is a huge victory for the 31 million students who participate in federal school meal programs and for all kids in schools.  This law is a game-changer in our efforts to reverse childhood obesity - it improves school nutrition, increases program access, and puts an additional $4.5B towards child nutrition programs over 10 years – that’s the largest increase to the authorization since it was started.” 

What exactly does the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act do?

Improves School Nutrition1

  • The law allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture to update school nutrition standards for all food in schools, including offerings through vending machines, stores and à la carte lines. It provides the largest increase in school lunch reimbursements in 30 years (6 cents per lunch, which would be tied to schools meeting stronger school lunch standards).
  • School meal quality also would be enhanced through stronger technical assistance to schools, improved meal financing and increased accountability regarding the foods schools serve and sell, and how they operate their programs.
  • TheThe law strengthens local school wellness policies by updating existing requirements, increasing transparency, providing opportunities for community involvement and creating compliance measurements.

Increases Program Access1

  • It makes it easier for children receiving Medicaid benefits to participate in school meal programs by using Medicaid data to directly certify eligible children, instead of requiring individual applications. About 115,000 more low-income children will receive free school meals each year as a result of the bill.
  • An additional 21 million after-school suppers will be served to at-risk children by 2015, and after-school sites would receive roughly $14,000 in additional revenue per site, on average, per fiscal year. The law also establishes nutrition requirements for these after-school programs.
  • Schools will receive $40 million for farm-to -school and school-garden programs to bring more healthy foods into schools and support local agriculture.


  • The legislation will spend $4.5 billion on child nutrition programs over 10 years. That is 10 times as large as the last reauthorization.
  • The law is partially paid for by eliminating a $2.2 billion temporary increase to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits that was part of the stimulus package. This offset was the source of some opposition by House Democrats.
  • The reduction in SNAP benefits would not go into effect until 2013. The White House has committed to working with Congress to restore the SNAP funding.

We at NICHQ would like to thank everyone who’s worked so hard to get this vital legislation through Congress. What a victory for child health!

1 Summary points authored by Dr. Dwayne C. Proctor.

General Childhood Obesity  Healthy Kids 


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