The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 became law this month. This reauthorization of the federal school nutrition program includes a number of elements that will help move the needle on childhood obesity. The Act recognizes the importance of school meals to the health and academic success of kids and gives school nutrition programs new responsibilities and resources to bring more fresh produce, whole grains and low-fat dairy products into school cafeterias. More than 31 million school kids participate in the National School Lunch Program and 11 million qualify for the School Breakfast Program. Many children get ½ of their daily calories at schools, making this program a great leverage point to improve nutrition for kids by placing more rigorous nutrition standards on the foods that are served in the program.
We were actually able to get elements of our childcare Empower Pack included in the new law. When the Request For Information came out several months ago we turned in our Empower program as a best practice and it ended up being included in Section 222 of the Act. That part of the law directs the Secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services to develop programming that encourages state licensing agencies to include wellness criteria within state licensing standards to ensure that licensed and regulated child care centers and family child care homes provide physical activity opportunities, limit screen time and offer food consistent with the healthy meals patterns and nutrition standards.