Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the congressmen spearheading the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act made a last-minute plea to the House — “in the name of the child” — to support passage of the act on Wednesday.
“This is the right moral thing for us to do,” said Pelosi, who made a direct correlation between children receiving a nutritional diet and general prosperity, as well as several other attributes of national greatness.
“It’s about competitiveness. It’s about our national security. It’s about our moral responsibility to our children,” said Pelosi. “Simply put, we cannot ignore this challenge.”
The $4.5 million childhood nutrition bill will increase the cost of school lunches by 6-cents, establish community “farm-school networks,” and establish nutrition standards for all foods sold during school hours, according to Democratic California Rep. George Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.
The bill unanimously passed the Senate in August but stalled just before the midterm elections as members worried the push to build gardens and feed children more carrots wouldn’t sit well with those still suffering in the poor economy.
There were also objections by anti-hunger advocates, who noted that about half of the $4.5 billion in funding would come from cuts of the federal food stamp program (SNAP), according to the Washington Post.
“Now it’s no secrets, the cuts of the SNAP food program don’t make a lot of sense to me. I don’t believe we should be taking access to food from some people in order to provide food for others,” said Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern, who until recently was a key Democrat opposing the bill. “But we’ve been assured repeatedly by the White House they will work with use to restore those cuts.”
Democratic Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln, who authored the original Senate version of the bill, strongly urged Republican reps to “take a cue from the [unanimous] Senate” and pass the bill.
“We’ve already extended the status quo for these programs once and there are precious few days left before this Congress is done,” said Lincoln. “We miss the opportunity to improve these programs, it will be our children who pay the price for our inaction.”
“The clock is ticking. The time is now,” she added.