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Capps: Congress Approves Child Nutrition Bill

The legislation, to reduce hunger and obesity, will be sent to President Obama for his signature

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Thursday applauded House of Representatives passage of S. 3307, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, by a vote of 264-157.

The legislation passed the U.S. Senate unanimously and will be sent to President Barack Obama’s desk for his signature.

The legislation aims to reduce childhood hunger and obesity by expanding eligibility for the National School Lunch Program and improving the nutritional value of school lunches by increasing the federal reimbursement rate for lunches that comply with nutrition standards. During the 2008-09 school year, the National School Lunch Program served more than 2.3 million lunches to students in San Luis Obispo County, more than 6.2 million lunches to students in Santa Barbara County and more than 10.8 million in Ventura County.

The rate of child poverty has increased from 15.6 percent to 20.7 percent since 2000, and one in three California children are overweight or obese. The $4.5 billion cost of the bill is fully offset by spending cuts and does not add to the deficit.

“The passage of this legislation is a win-win for children on the Central Coast and across the country, ensuring that they are healthy and equipped to learn. Hungry children cannot perform to their full potential in school, and we cannot allow an empty stomach to cheat a child out of a quality education,” Capps said. “This bill also shows that we are serious about combating the epidemic of childhood obesity that threatens a generation of our children with the prospect of living a shorter life than their parents.”

“The passage of the child nutrition bill will aid hunger alleviation for organizations like FOOD Share in their quest to end hunger in the communities they serve across the country,” said Bonnie Weigel, CEO of FOOD Share, Ventura County California’s regional food bank. “An ever-growing number of friends and neighbors are needing food assistance, and this legislation will be an important tool to help ensure that hungry children will have access to healthful meals while at school.”

The legislation is supported by a broad coalition of more than 1,300 anti-hunger, public health, faith, food industry and other groups.

— Ashley Schapitl is press secretary for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.

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