The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 — aka School Lunch bill — is now officially law.
President Barack Obama has signed the legislation into law. The president didn't take my advice; we were hoping for a ceremony outside the organic garden. Instead, the president had the signing ceremony at Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Washington, DC. Given the school theme, this was a good location as well.
[video of the signing ceremony via C-SPAN]
The legislation provides for $4.5 billion over a 10-year period, a relatively drop in the bucket of the budget.
In the ceremony, Obama cited the link between what kids eat and how well they do in school. And this is a nice first step.
The problem is that a second step is a long way away. This step took a long time, despite bipartisan support. There was hope even 6 months ago that this would be just the beginning of government action to improve the school lunch program. However, there will be at least a 2-year moratorium thanks to the GOP takeover of the House in January.
Now we're still waiting for the food safety bill. Last we heard of that soap opera, the House had threatened to "blue-slip" the Senate version based on revenue sources in that Senate version.
The House had to reapprove a version minus the revenue sources. The good news is that the House passed the food safety bill as part of a continuing resolution (what keeps the government funded).
Here comes the bad news: the Senate has to approve the CR — and the food safety bill within. The senators who objected to the food safety bill the last time will have their chance once again today.
This window is rather brief; again, if this bill doesn't pass, there is at least a 2-year window where nothing (from a government standpoint) will get done.
Stay tuned. We'll have the latest details as they come.