Congressional inaction on child nutrition ignores the needs of students, teachers, schools

Congress fails to include important child nutrition measures in omnibus bill

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 20, 2022 — Congressional leaders today announced a year-end omnibus spending package that fails to meaningfully reauthorize critical federal child nutrition programs. Nancy Brown, chief executive of the American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, issued the following statement:

“We are deeply disheartened by Congress’ failure to reauthorize federal child nutrition programs and expand access to healthy school meals for all in the omnibus bill. Although Congress did include critical provisions to expand access to summer meals in the bill, lawmakers failed to adequately address the nutrition cliff children nationwide have faced since the expiration earlier this year of pandemic-response child nutrition waivers. Congress ignored vital child nutrition provisions such as expanding access to free school meals, protecting and strengthening nutrition standards to prevent further erosion by special interests and improving access to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. Through its inaction, Congress did not do its job to prioritize the needs of children, parents, teachers and schools.

“Congress last passed child nutrition reauthorization more than a decade ago, and lawmakers are long overdue to update and improve programs that keep healthy foods on students’ plates. Efforts by the House of Representatives over the summer to produce strong child nutrition reauthorization legislation and advance a comprehensive standalone bill ultimately fell short with lack of action in the Senate.

“Over the past year, the American Heart Association’s nationwide network of grassroots advocates has urged Congress—through more than 18,000 calls, emails and meetings—to ensure that kids are not only fed but have access to the healthy meals they need to learn. Our message: providing healthy school meals for all students is a recipe for success that reduces food insecurity, improves children’s diets and academic performance, generates critical revenue for schools and decreases stigma. 

“The impact of congressional inaction will leave families and school meal providers without the support they need to ensure students receive nutritious meals at school. It is now even more imperative that the Biden administration advance the National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, including issuing regulations that would align the school meal nutrition standards with the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

“We also urge leadership from states to adopt policies that increase access to healthy school meals. Three states have already led and have permanent healthy school meals for all at no cost, including California, Maine and now Colorado with the passage of Proposition FF last month. Three other states have also committed to healthy school meals for all for another academic year. All 50 states will be in legislative session in 2023, and we are working in every state to call for passage of access to nutritious school meals.” 

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About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1. 

For Media Inquiries:

Arielle Beer: 202-785-7902; [email protected]  

For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

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