President Bush signed the Child Nutrition and Women, Infants, and Children Reauthorization Act of 2004 into law on June 30. The $16 billion reauthorization includes the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs and the Summer Food Service Program. Among the law’s changes are:
- A more streamlined application process for free and reduced-price lunches for low-income families, by making eligibility year-round, allowing parents to file electronically, and helping parents submit a single application for multiple children.
- A requirement that states and school districts develop local wellness policies to help promote healthier child nutrition and more physical activity. The departments of Agriculture, Education, and Health and Human Services are instructed to provide assistance to help draw up the policies when requested.
- An expanded fresh-fruit and -vegetable pilot program, which provides free fresh produce to students for snacking. The program will now be available in eight states and on three American Indian reservations.
- Extension of a paperwork-reduction pilot project in the summer food program. The project previously covered only public sponsors in seven states. The new law expands it to include private, nonprofit sponsors in 13 states.
- Expansion of a “farm to cafeteria” grant program to help school districts locate and use locally produced food.
A version of this article appeared in the July 14, 2004 edition of Education Week as Appetite for Change