Advocate to strengthen child nutrition programs

Written by: Stephanie Perez-Carrillo
Date Posted: September 27, 2019

It’s been nearly a decade since the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 passed, and now Congress has an opportunity to improve and strengthen child nutrition and school meal programs through the Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) process.

Every five years, the CNR authorizes ALL federal school meal and child nutrition programs, which provide funding to increase access to healthy food for children across the U.S. In Colorado, these programs include the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. Although the current law expired in September 2015, the programs have continued to operate. Through this process, we are asking Congress to:

Protect and strengthen evidence-based nutrition standards for school meals and other foods sold in schools by supporting strong evidence-based school food nutrition as required by law. The nutritional quality of school meals has improved over time, and more kids are participating in school food programs that offer healthier meals based on the first ever comprehensive study of school meals. Current statute mandates that the standards are consistent with the goals of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The existing nutrition standards promulgated by USDA for sodium and whole grains are no longer aligned with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This reauthorization must address restoring the nutrition standards back to baseline for sodium and whole grains.

Support and strengthen programs and policies that help ensure schools are successful in providing nutritious school foods. Use reauthorization as an opportunity to show support for adequate time to eat, length of meal time, and recess before lunch so that children meet recommendations to have at least 20 minutes of seat time to eat. Address drinking water safety and accessibility by providing funding for testing and remediation of cafeteria and kitchen tap water for schools and childcare centers and ensuring all schools have at least one bottle filling station and provide cups or bottles for filling.

Protect and increase access to child nutrition programs. Invest in summer nutrition by increasing access to nutritious meals through the Summer Nutrition Programs and expand and make permanent the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (Summer EBT) program, so that more working families receive a Summer EBT card to purchase food during the summer months. Streamline paperwork between summer feeding and the National School Lunch Program. Strengthen nutrition standards to align with school meals and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

Provide technical assistance and transparency in supporting schools in meeting the standards. Require a report to Congress on technical assistance efforts on sodium, whole grain-rich, and added sugars, including progress by schools to meet the standards.


Support the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity priorities by clicking here and completing the form by Sept. 27.

Stephanie Perez-Carrillo

About Stephanie Perez-Carrillo

Stephanie works as a Policy Analyst for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign, she worked as a Public Policy Fellow at The Women’s Foundation of Colorado – where she found her love and passion for policy work. Before diving into the policy world, Stephanie served as a Teach for America Corps Member in South Carolina, teaching high school and middle school math. Early on while obtaining her degree in Marketing from Florida International University, she worked in health care as a Patient Advocate and Unit Secretary. When she is not working, you can typically find her at a coffee shop, hanging out with friends, or engaging in some type of outdoor activity.