Food and nutrition insecurity among children, particularly children of color and children from low-income backgrounds, remains stubbornly high, and dietary diseases among children are increasing. The implications of federal nutrition policy on children’s health, development, and academic well-being are numerous.

During a briefing by First Focus on Children and The Education Trust this week, experts from USDA, the American Heart Association, and the Center for the Science in Public Interest outlined the following opportunities:

  • Child Nutrition Reauthorization: The introduction of the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act, marks the first time in 12 years that Congress has a chance to update and modernize federal child nutrition programs that reach millions of children, such as WIC and the School Lunch Program.
  • Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health: First Focus, Ed Trust, and 30 other organizations sent a letter to the White House urging planners to prioritize children and youth at its September conference on hunger, nutrition, and health — the first one since 1969.
  • USDA will reinforce nutrition standards for school meals: The Department of Agriculture plans to issue a durable rule on the nutrition standards that schools must meet, a move that will ensure that school meals meet the required nutritional quality and dietary guidelines. Schools are currently operating under a transitional rule, aimed at helping them continue to recover from the pandemic. First Focus on Children outlines the necessity of this rule in a comment to the department.

“It is just so abundantly clear that we need to improve our children’s overall diet and health,” USDA Deputy Undersecretary Stacy Dean said during the briefing.

In addition to Undersecretary Dean’s insight, our expert panel from the American Heart Association and the Center for the Science in Public Interest shared the following resources