This was a vote on a resolution setting a time limit for debate and prohibiting amendments to legislation expanding eligibility for subsidized school lunches for low-income children, and implementing stricter nutritional standards for food served in schools.
Under the bill, foster children would become automatically eligible for the school lunch program (in which students are provided with a free lunch subsidized by the federal government). In order to streamline the process of enrolling children in the school lunch program, the measure reduced the amount of paperwork required to sign up for free meals. The bill also established a grant program to increase participation among schools in the national school breakfast program.
The bill directed the Agriculture Department to establish nutritional standards for all food sold in schools – including products in vending machines. The measure also implements an organic food pilot program (to serve organic food in public schools).
Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) urged support for the resolution and the underlying bill: “Childhood hunger and poor nutrition are two of the greatest public health challenges--and yes, education challenges--that face our country. Nearly one-third of American children are overweight or obese, and many of those who are overweight or obese also suffer from malnutrition. This number has been on the rise nationally as well as in my home state of Colorado….Our schools should be our first defense against childhood obesity and unhealthy nutrition habits that stay with kids as they mature into adults and even have an intergenerational effect across their lives. While hunger affects people of all ages, it is particularly devastating for children.”
Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) criticized the legislation for using unspent funding that had been allocated for food stamps in the stimulus bill (which was enacted in February, 2009 in response to an economic crisis): “In order to pay for the new programs in this legislation, the congressional majority decided to use previously appropriated funding intended for the Food Stamp Program. The Food Stamp funds were provided under the so-called stimulus legislation, so it's as though the majority is admitting that taxpayer dollars were incorrectly spent, and they are now using those stimulus funds to pay for these programs.”
The House agreed to this resolution by a vote of 230-174. 229 Democrats and 1 Republican voted “yea.” 162 Republicans and 12 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House proceeded to formal floor debate on legislation expanding eligibility for subsidized school breakfasts and lunches for low-income children, and implementing stricter nutritional standards for food served in schools.