Recently, the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee voted to advance a bill, the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act, to reauthorize federal child nutrition programs. As we have reported, the most recent reauthorization of these programs, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, authorized the federal government to issue new nutritional standards for schools nationwide. In addition to creating enhanced requirements for reimbursable meals sold in school cafeterias, the law also established the first-ever national nutritional standard for “competitive foods” sold in schools, which went into effect in the 2014-15 school year. These regulations not only impact foods sold in vending machines, a la carte lines and school stores, but also CTE programs that operate school-based enterprises, such as student-run cafés, bakeries and restaurants.
While the bipartisan bill passed by the committee largely leaves the enhanced nutritional standards for all foods in place, it offers some limited flexibility in a few areas. Related to the competitive food rules specifically, it requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish an advisory panel of stakeholders to examine issues and develop policy recommendations for the sale of competitive foods that will be submitted to Congress.
It’s unclear when the bill might be considered by the full Senate. Additionally, the House Education and the Workforce Committee has yet to announce its own plans for reauthorization of child nutrition. We will continue to provide updates on the CTE Policy Watch Blog as the process unfolds.