The House Committee on Education and Labor this week released the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act, a Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill that would expand the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), increase the meal reimbursement and more.
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) applauded the release of the bill and advocated for some of its key provisions.
“As rising grocery prices leave families nationwide struggling to put food on the table, the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act takes critical steps to expand access to free, healthy school meals,” SNA President Lori Adkins said in a statement. “Costs are rising for school meal programs as well, and this legislation acknowledges the need to increase funding for these programs, which support student success in and out of the classroom.”
According to the SNA, markup on the bill is expected to take place next week. Here’s a look at some of the bill’s main components.
Higher reimbursement rate and commodity support
If passed, The Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act would increase the reimbursement rate for lunch by 10 cents and also provide U.S. Department of Agriculture commodities to support the School Breakfast Program.
Expansion of summer feeding
The bill aims to combat summer food insecurity by lowering the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) area eligibility threshold, providing transportation assistance and mobile meal delivery, and providing a Summer EBT Program at $75 per month per household.
Expansion of the Community Eligibility Provision
The CEP would be expanded to allow more districts to participate. Children who are on Medicaid would also be automatically certified for free school meals.
Expansion of CACFP
The bill would strengthen the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) by providing reimbursement for an additional meal or snack per child and would also allow children in households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to be automatically eligible for CACFP.
Grants to improve school foodservice
A series of grants would be provided to purchase new kitchen equipment, support farm-to-school programs, increase the amount of scratch cooking in schools and more.
New protocol regarding lunch shaming
Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids would ban schools from stigmatizing students who have lunch debt. Instead, schools would need try to directly certify the child for free or reduced-price meals. Schools would be retroactively reimbursed for meals served to a student who was unable to pay for them but is later directly certified.