There are several child nutrition programs which help families, schools, and child care programs provide healthy foods to children. Rather than revisit each one separately, Congress uses a process called Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) to revisit and modify the permanent laws that established many of these programs. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 was the most recent CNR, and certain provisions in that law expired at the end of September 2015.
Some of the programs typically included in CNR laws are permanently authorized and have permanent authorization of appropriations.1 The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) are two examples of such programs. In other words, programs of this type do not expire, even if the CNR law expires. Other programs – WIC, for example – have permanent authorization, yet their authorizations of appropriations expired when the HHFKA expired.1 Funding for these programs has been provided through yearly appropriations acts since the expiration of HHFKA. Still other programs expired and ceased to operate when HHFKA expired.
Especially in light of recent crises like the COVID pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn, CNR is an important step towards improving access to healthy food for all children. Dr. Lee Beers, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, recently reported to Congress that physicians across the nation have seen an alarming rise in child obesity – including body weight increases between 20% - 90% over the last year.2 Furthermore, Feeding America projects that 1 in 6 children may experience food insecurity in 2021.3 Both child obesity and food insecurity have been exacerbated by the current crises experienced nationwide.
Undoubtedly, Child Nutrition Reauthorization is a crucial endeavor for the 117th Congress. Thankfully, CNR is largely a bipartisan effort, and Congress has already started working towards a new CNR law to be enacted before this session ends in January 2023.
I hope this has increased your understanding of CNR. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. For information on the Academy’s CNR stance and talking points, visit here. Also, there are several active Action Alerts in the Academy’s Action Center.
Dawn Matusz, MS, NDTR
Public Policy Coordinator