Getting excited that the Senate unanimously passed the Child Nutrition Bill is completely understandable. Sure the Senate version is much weaker than the House, and thanks to Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), the first non-inflationary increase for school lunches since 1973 is 6¢.
The Senate version provides for $4.5 billion over the next decade. About 75% of that goes to improving school lunches; the other 25% will go to increase the number of children receiving food. Just to be clear: this money has to last 10 years.
The other notable element to the Senate version is that the Department of Agriculture will develop nutrition standards for foods sold in schools. The dirty secret of our education system is that schools sell food to raise money they don't get from the levels of government.
Given that the Senate version is the weaker of the two bills, everything in the Senate version should stay. The only reason that would change is if there are funding issues.
Speaking of funding, the Senate takes money from different sources (than the House version) to pay for its bill, including, cruelly, food stamps money.
The House could pass the Senate version as is, but if there are changes, the bill would have to be resubmitted to the Senate. You would hope that the House can fix the Senate bill to fund food stamps AND school lunches.
The looming September 30 deadline is vital, since a bill needs to be passed by the deadline. For advocates, this actually hurts since those who don't want more funding can threaten to stall. So a bad bill may be better than no bill at all.
This bill has wonderful elements to consider, and something needs to be done. Would be beneficial, even if symbolic, to get the increase higher than 6¢.