A plan close to final passage in Congress would provide $12.4 billion for school nutrition programs in the fiscal 2006 budget—an increase of $1 billion, or nearly 9 percent, over last year.
The appropriations bill for the Department of Agriculture, which includes funding for school nutrition programs, was reported out of a House-Senate conference committee on Oct. 26 after members agreed to settle differences over other programs such as the food stamp program. But the House and Senate were already in agreement over funding for the school food programs.
The money will go to 100,000 public and nonprofit private schools and residential child-care programs that participate in the national school lunch program and the school breakfast programs, which provide nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches and snacks to 28 million children every school day. Children whose family income is at or below 130 percent of the poverty level ($25,155 or less for a family of four) qualify for free meals.
The bill also would provide nearly $15 million to the states for the Special Milk Program, which provides milk to children in schools that do not participate in other federal meal-service programs.
A version of this article appeared in the November 02, 2005 edition of Education Week