Lawmakers pass school lunch bill
The bill expands access to school lunches and after-school meals and allows the USDA to set nutrition guidelines for foods sold in schools.
Thu, Dec 02, 2010 at 07:47 PM
LUNCHTIME: Fairmeadow Elementary School fourth grader Juliet Lee orders pepperoni pizza during a school lunch program in Palo Alto, Calif. More children would eat lunches and dinners at school under legislation passed Thursday. (Photo: Paul Sakuma/AP)
Lawmakers on Thursday passed a $4.5-billion bill that will give more children school meals and let the government set child nutrition guidelines.
The House of Representatives passed the bill by 264 votes to 157. It will now go to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.
First Lady Michelle Obama, who this year launched a campaign against child obesity, called the bill a "groundbreaking piece of bipartisan legislation that will significantly improve the quality of meals that children receive at school and play an integral role in our efforts to combat childhood obesity."
The bill pledges $4.5 billion over 10 years to child nutrition programs, increases the reimbursement paid to schools by the federal government for free meals provided to children, and expands access to school lunches and after-school meals.
It also allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set nutrition guidelines for foods sold in schools, including in coin-operated vending machines, and provides money for school gardens and farm-to-school programs.
House Republicans tried to block the bill by introducing a last-minute amendment that would have barred the government from giving funds to schools and other care facilities that hire workers who refuse to submit to or lie about background checks.
If their move had succeeded, the bill would have gone back to the Senate and would not have been voted on until the next session of Congress starts in January, with the Republicans in control of the House of Representatives.
Only 17 of Republicans voted for the bill.