House, Senate Nearing Final Approval Of a Compromise Child-Nutrition Bill
Washington--The House and the Senate are likely to vote this week to approve a measure that would extend the major federal child-nutrition programs with only minor changes.
Congressional aides were working late last week on the final details of a compromise bill that would iron out differences between the versions of the legislation already adopted by the two chambers.
The measure covers the school-lunch and -breakfast programs, which are permanently authorized, and several other programs, including those for nutrition education and surplus-commodity distribution, that would be reauthorized through 1994.
According to the aides, the compromise bill would require the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services to develop nutritional guidance for distribution to food-service authorities. The project would have to be completed within two years, and the Agriculture Department would be charged with ensuring that the guidance was implemented, the aides said.
In a provision expected to be welcomed by local school officials, the bill also would modify the current requirement that students who apply for free or reduced-price meals submit the Social Security numbers of all members of their households. Under the proposed change, the aides said, the students would have to submit the Social Security number of only one household member.
The current rule, which was intended to ensure that an applicant's household income did not exceed the legal limit, has been onerous to administer, according to some education groups.
"It's a lot of phone calls, a lot of letters," said Mary Klatko, a member of the American School Food Service Association's policy and legisla8tive committee. "I was tickled to death that it went off there."
Congressional sources said the compromise bill would also:
Direct federal and state authorities to streamline the program-review process. Food-service programs are now subject to six evaluations.
Raise the spending levels authorized for the Nutrition Education and Training Program, which provides information to teachers, students, and food-service workers, from its current $5 million to $25 million by 1993.
Create a grant program of at least $3 million to help schools offset the costs of establishing a school-breakfast program.
Earmark $2.1 billion in 1990 for the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children. The wic program now aids 3.9 million poor women and their children; the bill would allow another 200,000 to be served.