The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 authorizes funding for federal school meal and child nutrition programs and increases access to healthy food for low-income children. The bill that reauthorizes these programs is often referred to by shorthand as the child nutrition reauthorization bill. This particular bill reauthorizes child nutrition programs for five years and includes $4.5 billion in new funding for these programs over 10 years. Many of the programs featured in the Act do not have a specific expiration date, but Congress is periodically required to review and reauthorize funding. This reauthorization presents an important opportunity to strengthen programs to address more effectively the needs of our nation’s children and young adults.
The latest updates on the meal pattern and nutrition standards will be available on the USDA FNS website.
The hours after school are a critical time when children and youth are most at-risk of engaging in delinquent behavior. An afterschool care program that serves snacks reimbursed through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers children and youth constructive activities and something to eat. It draws them into supervised afterschool care programs that are safe, fun and filled with learning opportunities. Afterschool snacks fill the gap between the lunch they receive at school and supper, and helps ensure that children and youth receive the nutrition they need to learn, play and grow.
Since 2002, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has simplified the process for National School Lunch Program Sponsors to offer meals to children during the summer through the development of a "Seamless Summer Feeding Waiver." With the Child Nutrition Programs and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 the waiver became permanent and is now the "Summer Seamless Option."
The Summer Seamless Option combines features of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the School Breakfast Program (SBP), and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). The purpose of the Option is to feed children in low-income areas during the summer months.
The Option reduces paperwork and administrative burden normally associated with the SFSP. Option sites must be located in areas where 50 percent or more of the children qualify for free or reduced price school meals.
The 2008 Farm Bill expanded this program to all 50 states, providing funding to make fresh fruit and veggies available to children free of charge outside of the NSLP/SBP. It allows participating schools to be creative in offering produce items to students during the school day. This program helps teach children the importance of including fresh fruits and veggies in their diets.
The Special Milk Program provides milk to children in schools, child care institutions and eligible camps that do not participate in other Federal child nutrition meal service programs. The program reimburses schools and institutions for the milk they serve.
Schools in the National School Lunch or School Breakfast Programs may also participate in the Special Milk Program to provide milk to children in half-day pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs where children do not have access to the school meal programs.
Federal USDA Foods support American agricultural producers by providing schools with healthy and nutritious food to Federal child nutrition programs. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables, grains, cereals and nuts, as well as dairy and meat products, are available as USDA purchased commodities. Many products are formulated to be low in fat and have lower sugar and sodium content than commercial counterparts. USDA Foods account for approximately 15-20% of the foods used by school nutrition programs.