Senate passes bill making lunches healthier

    5:50 PM, Aug 6, 2010   |    comments
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    It's part of the Child Nutrition bill the Senate passed Thursday, and the House is expected to vote on next week.

    Senator Blanche Lincoln wrote this bill and she says it's a step in fighting child hunger and obesity.

    Educating kids goes beyond the classrooms and into the cafeteria.

    "For some kids this may be the only meals they will get in the day and at school. For us, we want them to get nutritional meals they need," says Executive Director John Bacon at e-STEM Charter School.

    Bacon says the Child Nutrition Bill will make a difference in his students' lives. It allows more low-income families to take advantage of free and reduced lunch programs.

    "My understanding is there will be things done to eliminate bureaucracy for families to qualify and get through the paperwork," says Bacon.

    Lincoln-D Ark., head of the agriculture committee, wrote the bill that allows schools to serve dinner to high-risk students after school.

    "It is critically important to kids again who are going home, especially in these economic times, to very little in terms of food and nutrition," says Lincoln.

    The bill would also mandate the Department of Agriculture nutrition standards for all food sold in schools, including vending machines because now, states set those standards.

    That's a step in solving Arkansas' problem, with one in four children living in hunger and one in five being obese.

    "It really focuses on not only on the hunger epidemic, but also the obesity crisis that exists in our children's lives today," says  Lincoln.

    For the first time in 37 years, the legislation provides more money to buy healthier foods, which are often more expensive.

    The bill also helps schools replace old kitchen equipment with new.

    The Arkansas Department of Education says 68 percent of Arkansas kids are on free or reduced lunch programs.


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