On Wednesday, July 26, 2022, the House Committee on Education and Labor held a markup on H.R. 8450, Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act. The Committee advanced the bill by a vote of 27 to 20, with no Republicans in favor. This act would update and reauthorize child nutrition programs which include the school and summer meals, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, Children (WIC), and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). These programs have been operating through appropriations since Congress have not reauthorized child nutrition programs in seven years.
As many children experience food insecurity the Committee agreed that it is imperative to keep children from going hungry. Included in the bill are provisions for improving school’s meal capacity and sustainability. A new pilot grant program, (Section 604. Plant-Based Foods in Schools) would expand access to plant-based school food, which is healthy, nutritious, and sustainable. This was modeled after the Healthy Future Students and Earth Pilot Program Act sponsored by Reps. Nydia Velázquez and Jamaal Bowman. Another victory for children and parents is the removal of barriers that prevent students from accessing nondairy milk. This is important because it would give parents more control over their child’s diet and enable schools to better accommodate those who cannot consume or process dairy. As the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act passes to the U.S. House of Representatives we hope to see Congress continually invest in children.
By Isabella Diez, Policy Intern