Though the House Education and Labor Committee's passage of the Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act is reason to be excited, I do take a slightly cynical approach as to what the bill will look like, provided it passes.
I have written about politics for some time, and know that especially in this cycle, the House has passed some wonderful legislation that the Senate has modified/damaged in its chamber.
Still, the fact that the U.S. Congress has decided to take some action on school lunches is enough to make one happier, especially those who want to see significant improvements in what we serve our children in the lunchroom.
Republicans who believe that the federal government shouldn't be involved in the educational system may try to weaken the bill. And some conservative Democratic politicians (yes, we're looking at you, Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas) will also try to reduce the impact of the bill.
This quote from Gordon Jenkins, program manager at Slow Food USA, sums up the frustration about the Senate version:
"The amount of funding however, is very modest at the $.06 addition to the current $2.68, which leaves only about $1 for ingredients. It won't be enough to make a significant change. That can be modified on the floor if Congress hears it's important enough."
And the strong House bill and weaker Senate bill have to be made into one bill that both Houses will pass for President Obama to sign. And since Obama really wants to sign a bill, this puts pressure on advocates to weaken the bill so it will pass.
But there is still time to be a part of the process, especially if you live in a state with a Republican senator.
The hope is that the bill will pass before the August recess. The current act expires on September 30.