What is Child Nutrition Reauthorization, or CNR?

The cafeteria at Oelwein Wings Park Elementary in Iowa
The cafeteria at Wings Park Elementary in Iowa
A moment in the cafeteria at Wings Park Elementary in Iowa

If you’re involved in child health in any way, you’ve probably heard the words “child nutrition reauthorization,” or CNR, get tossed around a bit. Advocates in the child nutrition world have been busy talking about CNR and what it means for schools. So, what is CNR? And more importantly, why should you care?

What is Child Nutrition Reauthorization, anyway?

It sounds like the name of a bill, but CNR is actually a process, not a law-to-be. Child nutrition reauthorization is the process when Congress scrutinizes and updates laws that govern all child nutrition programs. These programs include school lunch and breakfast, summer meals, after-school meals, and more—it’s a pretty big deal.

How often does CNR come up?

The CNR process generally occurs every five years. The last time Congress reauthorized these programs was in 2010, when it passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Congress started the process in the 2015-2016 session, but it never crossed the finish line, partly due to policy differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. But unlike some other policies, such as the farm bill, child nutrition programs continue to operate normally even without reauthorization.

Congress has already started hearings on child nutrition. In the House, the Education and Labor Committee has jurisdiction over child nutrition programs and held a hearing back in March. And in the Senate, the Agriculture Committee oversees child nutrition programs and held a hearing in April.

Got it. So why should I care about this?  

If you care about the health of our kids—particularly kids who face food insecurity, or who disproportionately face the impact of diet-related disease—and you want to see change on a national scale, you should care about this process.

Every day, 30 million kids eat a school lunch. And in the 2017 fiscal year, the federal government invested almost $18 billion in school food. CNR is an opportunity to help make sure more kids, schools, and communities can access healthy, nourishing, and delicious fresh foods, and to make positive changes that push some of the government’s investments in a healthier direction.

What can I do to support CNR?

We need to be prepared to speak out against harmful policies that restrict access to these vital programs, attempt to reduce funding, or weaken the science-based nutrition standards that support healthier meals.

FoodCorps is actively working with our partners in Washington, D.C., to help push Congress to make sure more kids get access to healthy food. We hope you’ll join us by raising your voice with your members of Congress along the way. Keep an eye on our action center for opportunities to get involved.

Visit our Action Center

FoodCorps is a non-partisan, non-profit organization. FoodCorps staff and FoodCorps AmeriCorps members may not participate in any partisan or seemingly partisan activities during work time charged to a Corporation for National and Community Service funded grant or while earning AmeriCorps service hours. No federal funds were used to prepare or distribute these advocacy actions.