The lame duck session after November elections will be the last chance for the current Congress to pass legislation to bolster child nutrition programs.
Votes from Democrats and some Republicans were lacking to pass the Senate’s version of child nutrition legislation with the required two-thirds majority in the House.
House leadership didn’t put the bill on the schedule Sept. 29 because they didn’t have the votes, said Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health for the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association.
Many Democrats were concerned about the use of future funding from the food stamp program to pay for part of the cost of the program. United Fresh and other nutrition advocates supported the use of food stamp funds to pay for the child nutrition bill, hoping for later congressional action to restore that funding.
DiSogra said United Fresh has a policy meeting the week of Oct. 4 for the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity.
“We are not giving up and we are going to work hard to make this a priority for the lame duck,” she said. “There is obviously a lot of work to be done.”
Although child nutrition programs were set to expire Sept. 30, a two-month extension was passed in a continuing resolution Sept. 29.
DiSogra said advocates haven’t given up on the effort to increase budgets for school lunches and put in place more stringent nutrition policies. Though the White House supports the bill, DiSogra said child nutrition advocates believe they need a new congressional champion for the bill.
The Senate passed child nutrition reauthorization at the beginning of August, raising the reimbursement rate for federal school lunches for the first time since 1973.