News from the
Committee on Education and the Workforce
John Boehner, Chairman

July 2, 2004

CONTACTS: Alexa Marrero or 
Dave Schnittger 
Telephone: (202) 225-4527

President Bush Signs Legislation to Renew School Lunch & Child Nutrition Programs
Newly Signed Law Will Help States Fight Growing Child Obesity Epidemic and Prevent Hunger Among Vulnerable Children and Families

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Bush this week signed into law the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act, legislation that will renew and strengthen federal child nutrition and school lunch programs and help local communities work with parents to fight America’s growing child obesity problem. The legislation also includes provisions to improve the financial integrity of the school lunch and WIC (Women, Infants, & Children) programs and ensure the resources being invested in these programs reach the children and families they are intended to serve.

The measure signed into law by the President is a bipartisan House-Senate agreement based largely on the provisions of the Child Nutrition Improvement & Integrity Act (H.R. 3873), legislation authored by House Education Reform Subcommittee Chairman Mike Castle (R-DE) and passed by the House in March with strong bipartisan support.

“During visits to schools over the past several years, I have noticed the growing number of obese children. We all recognize the fact that obesity has reached epidemic proportions in our nation. Most recently, the Centers for Disease Control announced that obesity is on its way to becoming the leading cause of preventable deaths in the nation by 2005,” said Castle.

“Defeating this crisis will require the work of many, including schools, parents, government, the health community, and industry. My legislation includes important steps to promote comprehensive solutions to child health and nutrition, including provisions to promote nutrition education and physical activity at the state and local level. It also encourages school districts to establish local wellness policies, including goals for nutrition education and physical activity, and include nutrition guidelines for foods sold in schools,” continued Castle. “It is my hope that these wellness policies will serve as a catalyst for encouraging a larger dialogue on how to combat obesity.”

“Children and families depend on federal child nutrition programs, and they depend on us to ensure these programs are being administered with integrity,” said Education & the Workforce Committee Chairman John Boehner (R-OH). “I commend Chairman Castle for his leadership not only in writing this bill, but in bringing Democrats and Republicans together to send it to the President on behalf of our nation’s children.”

The legislation signed into law by President Bush will:

  • Help states & schools fight childhood obesity. The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act promotes healthy choices and physical activity for children while preserving local decision-making authority. The establishment of local wellness policies, which would be written at the local level to reflect local needs, will promote nutrition education and increased physical activity while maintaining local control. These local wellness efforts will complement the larger aims of federal child nutrition programs – combating hunger and food insecurity, and ensuring eligible children receive nutrition assistance.

  • Improve integrity of the school lunch program. The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act makes a number of reforms to ensure eligible children have access to services and address growing concerns that the federal school lunch program does not do enough to ensure free and reduced-price lunch benefits go to children who qualify. By strengthening and streamlining the certification process, the bill will ensure federal resources are being effectively leveraged to serve children in need.

  • Improve access to nutrition for vulnerable children. The bill includes steps to improve access for vulnerable children, including: ensuring children whose parents are in the Armed Forces and living in privatized military housing continue receiving free or reduced-price meals at school if they meet eligibility requirements; helping parents by allowing them to submit a single application for multiple children; and reducing paperwork by allowing school lunch certifications to be valid for one full year, preventing situations in which schools are forced to repeatedly certify children within a single school year.

  • Improve integrity of the WIC (Women, Infants, & Children) supplemental program. The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act also renews the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The bill improves the certification process for WIC participation and takes steps to ensure program integrity. The bill includes common sense cost containment measures to address concerns about efficiency in the use of taxpayer resources, particularly within the WIC program. The strong cost containment measures will ensure WIC food costs and voucher payments are consistent with competitive retail prices for supplemental foods. This common sense reform will improve efficiency in the use of taxpayer dollars while protecting the ability to serve the greatest number of eligible women, infants, and children.

A summary of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act can be viewed online at 

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