Consider what will happen if the House fails to pass the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act:

* By 2020, low-income children will miss out on an additional 29 million nutritious afterschool meals.  Afterschool sites will miss out on almost $2 extra in reimbursement per meal – or $14,000 in additional revenue for each site per year.  The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act would expand afterschool meals for at-risk children by allowing schools in all 50 states to be reimbursed for a balanced meal rather than a small snack.

* Low-income children will miss out on 43 million free school meals each year. The legislation would connect more eligible low-income children with school meals by using Medicaid data to directly certify children to be eligible for school meals.

* Approximately 2,500 schools will miss out on new ways to serve all their students free meals.  The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act expands universal meal access for eligible children in high poverty communities by eliminating paper applications and using census data to determine school-wide income eligibility.  This would expand access to more children and reduce administrative burdens on schools.

* Schools will miss out on as much as $1.86 million each day in additional funds, which could help them serve healthier meals.  The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act includes the largest increase in school lunch reimbursements in over 30 years (an additional 6 cents per lunch).

* Unhealthy foods and sugary drinks will remain in schools.  The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act includes a bipartisan provision to update the national standards for school foods sold through vending machines, schools’ stores and a la carte in the cafeteria.  This provision enjoys broad support from the food and beverage industry and health and education groups.

* Schools will miss out on $40 million for farm to school programs and school gardens.  Promoting farm to school efforts that deliver fresh, locally grown food directly from the field to the cafeteria will improve students’ diets and support farmers.

Passing this legislation is an important part of First Lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaMichelle Obama looks to mobilize voters for midterms We must mount an all-country response to help our Afghan allies Obamas, Bushes and Clintons joining new effort to help Afghan refugees MORE’s work to reduce childhood obesity.  This is a historic opportunity to replace junk food that kids consume with fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.  If Congress resorts to an extension for the programs, these important advances will be lost. And our kids will be more hungry and less healthy. 

Margo G. Wootan is the director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a non-profit advocacy organization that specializes in food and nutrition.