Senate Passes Bill to Strengthen Nutrition Programs and Fight Childhood Obesity

Washington, D.C.
– The Senate passed legislation today to reduce childhood obesity and strengthen programs dedicated to improving children’s nutrition.  The Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act will provide $4.5 billion to improving the National School Lunch Program, promote the health benefits of breastfeeding, and establish new national nutritional standards to help children eat healthier foods at school.

“Childhood obesity is a serious epidemic in America and we have an obligation to our children to improve the nutritional quality of the food they eat,” said Merkley.  “If we want our kids to lead healthier lives, we need to give them healthier options than soda, French fries, and pizza.  While I would have liked to see stronger support for childhood nutrition programs, this bill makes significant improvements in the food we serve to our kids in school.”

The Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act will increase funding for the National School Lunch Program and ensure that schools can meet new national nutrition standards established.  The bill also increases funding for the Women Infants Children (WIC) program, including a new program to promote the health benefits of breastfeeding.

The bill included two provisions co-sponsored by Senator Merkley.  One is the Farm-to-School program to bring local foods into cafeterias and establish school gardens.  The other is a provision to provide low-income children across the country with after-school meals rather than just a snack.