WASHINGTON, March 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. school lunch program is set to get a big increase in cash, some of which will be used to improve nutritional quality, a U.S. senator said Thursday.
Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, unveiled the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which provides $4.5 billion in new child nutrition program funding over 10 years. The highest previous increase was $500 million over 10 years.
"The bill invests heavily to automatically enroll more eligible low-income children with our National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs and includes a major expansion of after-school feeding programs," Lincoln said at a news conference in Washington.
The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010:
-- Expands the at-risk after-school program from a snack to a meal.
-- Allows schools in high-poverty areas to offer free meals to all students without collecting paper applications to reduce administrative burdens on schools.
-- Adds a 6-cent-per-meal increase to help schools meet healthier standards.
-- Gives the secretary of agriculture the authority to establish national nutrition standards for all foods sold on school campus throughout the school day.
-- Facilitates planting school gardens and using local foods in school cafeterias.
"When Congress passes the child nutrition reauthorization bill, it will help get all junk food out of every school once and for all," Margo G. Wootan, nutrition policy director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, said in a statement.