October 8, 2009

House Bills Would Increase Federal Nutrition Programs

The U.S. House set aside $82.8 billion for federal nutrition programs like food stamps and hot lunches on Wednesday, including an arrangement to pay poor families for lunches the students miss during flu epidemics.

The money came from a $121 billion funding bill from the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration that started Oct 1. Nutrition spending would increase $6.6 billion from 2009, due to the recession.

If schools are shut down a minimum five days due to illness, the government could send funding to families with children who eat free or reduced-price lunches. The money spent would end up being about $13.50 a week per child, based the cost of lunch.

The proposal will denote that child nutrition "is not overlooked in the midst of a pandemic emergency," said the School Nutrition Association.

The bill, which successfully passed through the House of Representatives, is now in the Senate.

Child nutrition agendas will be sent $16.9 billion thanks to the bill, an increase of $1.9 billion from the previous year. The Women, Infants and Children food program will receive $7.25 billion, and increase of $398 million.

Food stamps would be sent $58.3 billion, a rise of $4.3 billion. About one in eight Americans are given food stamps.

Written into the bill is a one-year addition of child nutrition programs, which were updated in 2009.

"If significant progress is not made, (we) will consider eliminating funding for the program," said the House and Senate speakers who penned the bill.