Senate Ag holds child nutrition hearing |

Senate Ag holds child nutrition hearing

-The Hagstrom Report

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., held a hearing today to launch their effort to reauthorize the child nutrition programs in this Congress.

In an opening statement, Roberts said he wanted to “remind everybody that the last child nutrition reauthorization was completed in 2010. So it is again necessary to take a fresh look to find ways to provide certainty, to reduce administrative redundancies and allow flexibility at the local level to better serve participants and stakeholders. Considering how many districts there are in the United States and how different each district is, it is clear that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work for everyone.”

Roberts noted that spending on all the child nutrition programs including school meals, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, the Special Milk Program, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and the Farm to School Program and others totals $30 billion in mandatory and discretionary spending per year.

In her statement, Stabenow emphasized that Michigan is leading the way in using Summer EBT and that Michigan was one of the first states to roll out the Community Eligibility Provision that makes it easier for some children to gain access to school meals and reduces paperwork.

“Even though we’ve seen progress, it is vital that we keep moving forward – not backward,” Stabenow said.

Brandon Lipps, the Agriculture acting deputy undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, testified on the operation of the program, while Kathryn Larin, director of the Education, Workforce and Income Security section of the Government Accountability Office, testified on the studies GAO has done on payment error rates of the program.

During the question-and-answer period, senators focused on the details of the programs.

A second panel of officials who manage child nutrition programs testified on their management.

A Roberts aide has told The Hagstrom Report that committee staff has met with the staff of the House Education and Labor Committee, which has jurisdiction over child nutrition in the House.