School Lunches and the Farm Bill
Travis Hobart, MD
with Fern Gale Estrow, Sheilah Davidson, Thomas Forster, and Ed Yowell
The Farm Bill and the Child Nutrition Act Set the Table for School Lunches
Over the past several months, we have been focusing on the 2012 Farm Bill. As you have learned, the Farm Bill is neither simple, nor does it relate exclusively to farms. It is, however, largely responsible for setting much of the agenda and budget at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Perhaps surprisingly, the major spending at the USDA is not directly related to farms, but rather to nutrition assistance programs; $188.9 billion in the Nutrition Title of the $284 billion 2008 Farm Bill. The Nutrition Title includes: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the largest component, formerly the Food Stamp Program; Food Distribution Programs, including The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP); Fruit and Vegetable Promotion Programs; Farmers Market and Community Food Promotion, including the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP); and Community Food Security and Emergency Food Grants.
This month, we are going to explore the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), which provided lunch for 31 million students at a cost of $9.8 billion during the Fiscal Year 2009. Over the years, school lunches have been incrementally catered at the expense of the federal government. Three landmark pieces of legislation form the foundation of the NSLP, beginning modestly with the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933, the nation’s first Farm Bill, and, more significantly, with the 1935 Amendment to that 1933 bill.