The Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill would need to spend an additional $4 billion per year or $40 billion over 10 years to even come close to ending child hunger. Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), who is on the Senate Agriculture Committee, has pledged to reach that $40 billion goal. If such funding were allocated, it would cost an estimated $3.6 billion each year ($36 billion over 10 years) to make free and healthy breakfast available to every child in a Title I school—a goal worthy of prioritization. The remaining $400 million could be used for other worthy goals such as improving the quality of school meals, rewarding states for innovative efforts to reduce child hunger, further enabling schools to buy food from local and regional farmers, expanding the WIC program, expanding access and reducing paperwork in programs that provide meals to children after school and during the summer, and boosting school gardens.
President Barack Obama’s 2011 budget proposal includes—and proposes concrete ways to pay for—a $1 billion per year ($10 billion over 10 years) increase in child nutrition funding. This sum would definitely advance the administration’s laudable child nutrition priorities and would be an important down payment on the president’s goal to end U.S. child hunger by 2015. Congress should provide no less funding that the president’s request, and it should use the current reauthorization and upcoming appropriations processes as opportunities to work toward the full $40 billion needed.
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