School lunch compromise bill advances in Senate

School lunch compromise bill advances in Senate
© Getty Images

A compromise to keep first lady Michelle Obama’s prized healthy school meal standards in place while giving schools more flexibility advanced in the Senate on Wednesday.

The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee approved a child nutrition reauthorization bill, offered by committee Chairman Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsPompeo says he's 'ruled out' 2020 Kansas Senate run GOP senators offer praise for Klobuchar: 'She’s the whole package' The Hill's Morning Report - House Dems prepare to swamp Trump with investigations MORE (R-Kan.) and ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), to the floor for a vote.


“Folks said we couldn’t come to an agreement on child nutrition reauthorization — let alone a bipartisan agreement — but we did,” Roberts said.

“This bipartisan legislation is a true compromise. Not everyone got everything they wanted, but a lot of folks have a lot to be happy about.”

The Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016 will give schools two more years to reduce sodium levels in the meals they provide to students and allow them to serve at least one bread, pasta or grain product a week that is not made up of at least 51 percent whole grains.

School groups, like the School Nutrition Association, had been lobbying for sodium levels to be left where they are and for lawmakers to revert back to old standards for whole grains.

While the SNA did not get everything it asked for, the group said the Senate bill offers practical solutions for school meal programs that are struggling to keep enrollment numbers up and food from going to waste.

Schools will now have until 2019 instead of 2017 to hit the lower sodium levels required by the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Sodium content for the week will be expected to drop from 1,360 mg to 1,035 mg in middle schools, and from 1,420 mg to 1,080 mg in high schools.

A committee spokeswoman said there are clerical and procedural steps that still need to be taken to formally introduce the legislation in the Senate. She said no specific date has been set for a vote on the Senate floor.