Let’s Bring In the New Year Right! Celebrating the One Year Anniversary of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010

As 2011 comes to a close and we welcome in the New Year, advocates for healthier food and nutrition for our nation’s youth have something to cheer about: the one year anniversary of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The main goal of this Act is to make improvements to the child nutrition programs that serve millions of children across our country each day, and to improve access to nutrition assistance to make it easier for children to get nutritious meals when they are away from home. Sounds like something to celebrate, right? Yeah, we thought so too.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack think this act deserves some recognition because the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 will affect nearly 32 million school children that participate in the National School Lunch and the 12 million school children that participate in the School Breakfast Programs each day. Some of the key accomplishments in 2011 were:

  • The USDA issued new rules to ensure that all revenues from school food sales keep pace with the Federal commitment to healthy school meals and properly align with costs, providing local schools as much as $7.5 billion over 5 years to invest in healthier meals for children.
  • The USDA worked closely with states to expand the availability of afterschool meals across the nation through the Child and Adult Care Food Program. USDA estimates this expansion could provide supper to an additional 140,000 kids in low-income areas.
  • The National Farm to School program received considerable support and expansion under the new Act. In fact, the legislation provides for over $50 million to expand this program of success to thousands of new schools nationwide.

Though there have been some absurd setbacks – such as Congress caving to corporate interests and labeling pizza as a vegetable in our nation’s school cafeterias – there are still numerous opportunities to advance school health on Capitol Hill. One of these opportunities was introduced into Congress in November: the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act of 2011. This Act seeks to get more children connected to the outdoors and help them develop a healthy, physical lifestyle at an early age! In order to reach these goals, this Act will provide state-level incentives to develop five-year state strategies that connect children, youth, and families with the natural world.

We have many accomplishments to celebrate for improving the health of our nation’s youth, and we look forward to advancing even more in 2012!!!