Do you want the good news or the bad news?
O.K., we’ll start with the good news first: the Child Nutrition Act that we wrote about back in July passed unanimously through the Senate.
If passed through the House (the expiration period is September 30), this bill will provide and extra $4.5 billion over 10 years to federal child nutrition programs such as increasing the number of children qualifying for free and reduced lunch and improving the quality of school food. A whooping six cents per student will be added to school meals, and USDA will develop stronger nutrition standards for school food. Michelle Obama even rallied in the Washington Post in support of the bill.
But here’s where the bad news comes in. How do you suppose our economically challenged country proposes to bring good food to schools and tackle obesity and hunger? Well, some members of Senate seemed to find the answer in food stamps (now called SNAP). The proposed legislation shortens the time frame for the 2009 stimulus bill’s SNAP benefits increase and uses that saved $2.2 billion to pay for the Child Nutrition Bill. Other SNAP cuts have been proposed to pay for increased Medicare and school funding for teachers as well.
The weird part about this is that nearly eighty percent of SNAP benefits go to households with children. So the same population we’re planning to nourish in school will be more likely face issues of food-insecurity when returning home?
This would be a set-back for Oregon, the second most food-insecure state in the nation, with one and five people on food stamps. Last week, over forty Oregonian organizations along with hundreds of other organizations across the country, signed on to a letter urging Congress to seek other ways to fund important government assistance programs. You can view this letter, which has some good stats on the positive economic impact of SNAP usage here.