Statement: FoodCorps Applauds Congress for Build Back Better Act’s Child Nutrition Provisions And Sees Important Work Still Ahead
Washington, D.C., November 19, 2021 — Today, the House of Representatives passed President Joe Biden’s economic agenda, known as the Build Back Better Act, preserving select investments to our nation’s families and children. After months of negotiations, the expansive social policy legislation will now head to the U.S. Senate. FoodCorps applauds policymakers’ actions to keep provisions intact around school meals, kitchen upgrades, and nutrition education. Although we were disappointed that the funding was pared down, we see this legislation as significant progress and an important down payment on future child nutrition programs. The current legislation includes:
- Expansion of the Community Eligibility Program to increase access to free school meals for 8.9 million more children through July 2026.
- $50 million for Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer payments to continue through summer 2024. Supplemental benefits will be $65 per month, per eligible child, in 2023. The USDA will develop an alternate benefit plan for schools with a continuous academic calendar.
- $250 million in grants and monetary incentives in fiscal year 2022 for Healthy Food Incentives Demonstration, including:
- Improving the nutritional quality of meals and snacks served under a child nutrition program.
- Enhancing the nutrition and wellness environment of institutions participating in a child nutrition program, including by reducing the availability of less healthy foods during the school day.
- Increasing the procurement of fresh, local, regional, and culturally appropriate foods and foods produced by underserved or limited-resource farmers.
- Funding a statewide nutrition education coordinator to support individual school food authority nutrition education efforts, and to facilitate collaboration with other nutrition education efforts in the state.
- $30 million for School Kitchen Equipment Grants for training and technical assistance to support scratch cooking, and to purchase equipment necessary to serve healthier meals, improve food safety, and increase scratch cooking.
These investments will go a long way toward relieving child food insecurity and helping our schools improve services to children.
To get to this point, FoodCorps joined hundreds of other schools and organizations to urge Congressional leadership to keep children a priority in this once-in-a-generation opportunity, including sending a letter recently with more than 100 signatures from partner organizations. With Child Nutrition Reauthorization also overdue for legislative action, FoodCorps will continue to fight for programs that will support schools, their nutrition staff, and educators to further embed healthy food into the school day. We will monitor the Build Back Better Act’s legislative course, hold our elected officials accountable, and advocate on behalf of our nation’s youth.
FoodCorps thanks President Biden and the members of Congress who fought hard to keep child nutrition a priority in this bill. We especially recognize the efforts of Representative Bobby Scott, Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, and Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and their respective staffs, for working tirelessly for our nation’s children in this tremendous effort.
Together with communities, FoodCorps connects kids to healthy food in school so that every child—regardless of race, place, or class—gets the nourishment they need to thrive. Our AmeriCorps leaders transform schools into places where all students learn what healthy food is, care where it comes from, and eat it every day. Building on this foundation of direct impact, FoodCorps develops leaders, forges networks, and pursues policy reforms that in time have the potential to improve all of our nation’s 100,000 schools. To learn more about FoodCorps’ work across the country, visit http://www.foodcorps.org or follow @foodcorps on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.