SCHOOL LUNCH AND CHILD NUTRITION PROGRAMS REAUTHORIZATION -- (House of Representatives - March 30, 2004)
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Mr. BOEHNER. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of S. 2241, which extends the authorization for the expiring portions of federal child nutrition programs for an additional three months.
The child nutrition programs include the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs; the Special Supplemental
Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (or WIC); the Child and Adult Care Food Program; the After School Snack Program; and the Summer Food Service Program.
These invaluable programs-which are responsible for providing nutritious meals to millions of children and adults every day-are due for reauthorization this year. I am pleased to note that the House acted decisively last week to approve comprehensive reauthorization legislation, showing overwhelming support for a bill that includes positive reforms to improve program integrity and ensure services for eligible children. Unfortunately we have not had the opportunity to complete the reauthorization process with our friends on the other side of the Capitol, and for that reason, we are here today seeking to extend the current authorization an additional three months.
This bill contains one provision of particular importance to our Nation's soldiers, sailors and airmen. If this legislation is not approved, the children of Armed Forces members who live in privatized military housing and who are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch will lose their school meal subsidies. This would be an insult to these parents who work every day to secure our Nation's freedom.
In addition, this legislation contains a provision that allows for-profit child care centers to continue to participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and to continue to provide meals and snacks to centers where at least 25 percent of the children enrolled meet the income eligibility requirements for free and reduced-price lunch.
Parents will always bear primary responsibility for their children's health and nutrition, but this bill provides assistance for those who are having trouble making ends meet. The overall goal of all of the child nutrition programs is to make sure that low-income children and families have access to low-cost meals and snacks that are safe and nutritious.
The Child Nutrition Improvement & Integrity Act approved by the House last week includes important steps to ensure effective and efficient use of federal resources dedicated to child nutrition programs. The bipartisan bill, authored by Representative MIKE CASTLE (R-DE), would significantly enhance integrity in how the child nutrition programs are administered, and would ensure vulnerable children and families have improved access to nutritional services. I am eager to move forward with the Child Nutrition Improvement & Integrity Act, and I believe the extension before us will allow the Congress to complete a thorough and comprehensive reauthorization process that includes the positive reforms approved by the House last week.
This bipartisan bill is a simple, straightforward tool to make sure we are serving the millions of low-income children who depend upon the programs contained in the Child Nutrition and Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Acts. Mr. Speaker, I strongly support the bill before us today and I encourage the House to act once again in a bipartisan show of support for federal child nutrition programs by voting "yes" on S. 2241.