They did it. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) have completed their personal work on the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016, and got it approved today with a unanimous vote of their Committee members.
They did it. They crafted a bill that maintains the nutritional integrity of school lunch and school breakfast. They crafted a bill that provides some increases in the needed summer meals program, and improvements in the Child and Adult Care Food Program. They crafted a bill that provides improvements in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, while providing additional coverage for those children up to age 6 who have not yet begun to receive school meal programs.
They did it. They worked with scores of advocacy groups who all had important priorities meriting consideration, even if the current budget situation required that everything be paid for within the context of just the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act of 1966. No one got everything they wanted, but each probably got more than they were expecting. They worked with the White House and with USDA to be sure everyone was on the same page going forward.
They did it. They got this bill completed in a bipartisan fashion that allows every member of the Committee, and certainly Senators off the Committee, to own a piece of it, making important contributions to the well being of our nation’s children. They maintained the bipartisan tradition that has been the hallmark of child nutrition legislation throughout its history. As Chairman Roberts so aptly stated in his opening remarks, “The school lunch program was originally created as, “a measure of national security, to safeguard the health and well-being of our nation’s children and to encourage the domestic consumption of nutritious agricultural commodities.” That original statement of purpose has never been amended by any subsequent law or reauthorization, and still holds true today.”
They did it. Compliments and thanks to Chairman Roberts and Senator Stabenow.
Now it is up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to bring the bill to the Senate floor, and for the House of Representatives to follow through. Hopefully both bodies will follow the example set by the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, and complete action on this bill promptly in the coming months.