Child Nutrition and WIC Legislation in the 108th and 109th Congresses
Child Nutrition and WIC Legislation
in the 108th and 109th Congresses
Updated July 13, 2006
Domestic Social Policy Division
Child Nutrition and WIC Legislation
in the 108th and 109th Congresses
Child nutrition programs (e.g., school meal programs, summer food service,
child care food programs) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for
Women, Infants, and Children (the WIC Program) are subject to periodic
comprehensive reviews, when appropriations and other authorities expire and have
to be reauthorized. They were up for reauthorization review in the 108th Congress,
and the only substantial child nutrition-WIC legislation in the 108th Congress, and so
far in the 109th Congress, has been the 2004 reauthorization law — the Child
Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, P.L. 108-265, enacted June 30,
The 2004 law extended virtually all expiring authorities through FY2009 and
contained important, but incremental, changes in child nutrition programs and the
WIC program; the Congressional Budget Office estimated that it will generate net
new spending totaling about $230 million through FY2009. Its major feature was a
set of amendments aimed at improving the integrity and administration of the school
meal programs. Significant changes were made in procedures relating to the way
children’s eligibility for free and reduced-price school meals is certified and verified,
and new initiatives to upgrade schools’ administration of their meal programs were
put in place. However, minimal revisions were made to the school meal programs
themselves — for example, expansion of eligibility for homeless, runaway, and
migrant children, loosened rules for certain higher school breakfast subsidies — and
a major proposal to phase in higher income eligibility limits for free school meals
was limited to an authorization for a pilot project. Relatively minor amendments
also affected the Summer Food Service and Child and Adult Care Food programs
— for example, making permanent and expanding coverage of “Lugar” rules
facilitating participation by summer program sponsors and making permanent and
nationally applicable a rule loosening Child and Adult Care Food program eligibility
rules for for-profit child care centers.
Another area of concern addressed by the reauthorization law was nutrition,
health, and nutrition education. Here, the biggest initiative was a requirement that
all schools participating in school meal programs establish locally designed “wellness
policies” to set nutrition, physical activity, and other goals and strategies for meeting
them. Coupled with it were (1) authorizations for new nutrition education efforts,
(2) an expansion of the program offering free fresh fruit and vegetables in selected
schools, and (3) significant changes in food safety rules.
Finally, a large number of revisions were made to the law governing the WIC
program. The most important among them were amendments aimed at strengthening
rules that help contain food costs incurred by the program; these included provisions
placing substantial limits on vendors receiving the majority of their revenue from
WIC vouchers (so-called “WIC-only” stores).
This report will be updated as events and legislation warrant.
The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004:
The New Law.................................................3
Program Integrity in School Meal Programs:Certification
and Verification of Eligibility............................5
Program Integrity in School Meal Programs:
Administrative Error Reduction...........................6
School Meal Programs (School Lunches and Breakfasts)...........7
Nutrition, Health, and Nutrition Education......................8
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables, WIC Farmers’ Markets,
and Locally Produced Food.............................10
Summer Food Service Program..............................11
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)..................11
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program
for Women, Infants, and Children (the WIC Program)........12
State Administrative Expenses..............................14
Technical Assistance and Training...........................14
Other Legislated Changes..........................................15
Proposals Since the 2004 Reauthorization Law......................16
Proposals Pending During Consideration
of the 2004 Reauthorization Law.............................17
Child Nutrition and WIC Legislation
in the 108th and 109th Congresses
Child nutrition programs and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for
Women, Infants, and Children (the WIC program) are governed by three basic federal1
!The Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act. This law was
originally enacted in 1946 as the National School Lunch Act; it was
renamed in 1999. It provides authority for the School Lunch
program, the Child and Adult Care Food program, the Summer Food
Service program, after-school programs (those run under both the
aegis of the School Lunch program and the Child and Adult Care
Food program), food commodity support for child nutrition
programs, training and technical assistance (including the Food
Service Management Institute), compliance, program integrity, and
accountability activities, and an information clearinghouse. It also
includes a number of general-purpose provisions governing the
operation of multiple child nutrition programs (e.g., income
eligibility and inflation indexing rules, nutrition requirements for
meals, general rules participating schools must follow).
!The Child Nutrition Act. This law was originally enacted in 1966.
It provides authority for the School Breakfast program, the WIC
program, the Special Milk program, assistance for state
administrative expenses related to child nutrition programs, and
nutrition education activities.
!Section 32 of the act of August 24, 1935 (7 U.S.C. 612c). Section
32 authority provides funding for cash child nutrition subsidies
(permanent appropriations under Section 32 are transferred to the
child nutrition account annually as part of the appropriations
process). It also includes additional authority (to that in the Richard
B. Russell National School Lunch Act) and funding for the
acquisition of food commodities for distribution to child nutrition
1 In addition to these laws, Congress has used annual appropriations measures and omnibus
agriculture legislation to direct the Agriculture Department to take actions affecting child
nutrition and WIC programs. These directives typically take the form of requirements
related to commodity support for child nutrition efforts — but they also can encompass
amendments to the underlying law or changes in program policies.
programs (Section 32 money is used to buy and distribute surplus
Prior to the 108th Congress, the most recent comprehensive amendments to child
nutrition and WIC law were made by the 1998 William F. Goodling Child Nutrition
Reauthorization Act (P.L. 105-336).3 And, under the reauthorization schedule, the
next wide-ranging review of child nutrition and WIC programs was set for 2003.
However, a number of significant laws affecting the child nutrition and WIC
programs were enacted in the 106th and 107th Congresses (1999 through 2002).
These are covered in the immediate predecessor to this report — CRS Report
RL31578, Child Nutrition and WIC Legislation in the 106th and 107th Congresses,
by Joe Richardson. Information on the programs covered by child nutrition and WIC
legislation is contained in CRS Report RL33307, Child Nutrition and WIC
Programs: Background and Recent Funding, by Joe Richardson.
Only one significant law governing child nutrition programs (e.g., school meal
programs) and the WIC program has been (or is likely to be) enacted in the 108th and
109th Congresses — the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004
(P.L. 108-265; signed on June 30, 2004).
The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act
of 2004: P.L. 108-265
The authorization of appropriations for several child nutrition programs and the
WIC program, as well as authority to carry out certain child nutrition activities, were
scheduled to expire September 30, 2003, under the terms of the previous
reauthorization law (P.L. 105-336).4 Anticipating renewal of these authorizations,
Congress began consideration of child nutrition/WIC reauthorization legislation in
the Spring of 2003. However, primarily because of budget-related concerns as to
how much, if any, new funding might be available to be spent on new or expanded
initiatives, no action was taken in 2003 (other than hearings and the introduction of
bills proposing various individual program changes). Instead, a short-term extension
of expiring authorizations (P.L.108-134) was enacted, pushing most expiration dates
to March 31, 2004, and giving Congress time to act.
2 For more information, see CRS Report RS20235, Farm and Food Support under USDA’s
Section 32 Program, by Geoffrey S. Becker.
3 For information on this law and other child nutrition and WIC legislation in the 104th and
in the 104 Congress, and CRS Report 97-108, Child Nutrition Issues in the 105 Congress,
both by Joe Richardson (available on request).
4 It should be noted that appropriations for the majority of child nutrition programs (e.g., the
school meal programs) are permanently authorized.
On March 24, 2004, the House passed an amended version of its child nutrition-
WIC reauthorization bill (the Child Nutrition Improvement and Integrity Act; H.R.
3873; H.Rept. 108-445), which included provisions that would have resulted in
estimated net new mandatory spending of $235 million through FY2009. However,
with the March 31st deadline approaching (and no definitive Senate action), another
stopgap law extending most expiring authorities through June 30, 2004, was enacted
— P.L. 108-211.
While there was no formal action in the Senate, the House and Senate
committees of jurisdiction (the House Education and the Workforce Committee and
the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee), with the
Administration’s participation, informally discussed a potential final bill through
March, April, May, and into June 2004. On May 19, 2004, the Senate Agriculture,
Nutrition, and Forestry Committee ordered reported the Child Nutrition and WIC
Reauthorization Act of 2004 (S. 2507; S.Rept. 108-279; reported June 7, 2004). This
bill, as amended with unanimous consent on the Senate floor, passed the Senate on
June 23, 2004. It reflected agreements that had been reached in the House-Senate
discussions that had been taking place over the past several months and included
many House (and Administration) proposals and perspectives. On June 24, 2004, the
House passed it without objection. This final measure encompassed changes in law
estimated to result in $232 million in net new mandatory spending (outlays, slightly
more in budget authority) through FY2009 (the end of the reauthorization period).
It was enacted as the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 (P.L.
The New Law
Much of the debate over and content of the 2004 reauthorization law was driven
by the availability (or lack of availability) of funding for new initiatives or program
expansions. Budget reconciliation agreements offered little new mandatory money
(a total of about $230 million through FY2009), and, if House and Senate legislators
wanted to fund new initiatives or expansions with mandatory dollars beyond these
budget constraints, they effectively were forced to use savings from changes they
made within child nutrition programs.5 In the alternative, they could (and did)
authorize appropriations for new initiatives/expansions or establish pilot projects
rather than create or expand entitlement/mandatory programs. The final product
encompassed some $395 million in new gross spending through FY2009; however,
this was financed with an estimated $163 million in savings achieved primarily by
revisions to the system for certifying and verifying eligibility for free and reduced-
price school meals (see immediately below).
Perhaps the biggest issue confronted by Congress was concern over
“overcertification” — the degree to which ineligible children are judged eligible for
free or reduced-price school meals. Though estimates and perceptions differed as to
the extent and seriousness of the problem, overcertification was widely judged a
significant issue and provoked accompanying questions as to schools’ administrative
5 Virtually all child nutrition programs are mandatory entitlements. On the other hand, the
WIC program is discretionary.
strength and how to ensure that eligible children were not disadvantaged by any
legislative solution. As a result, the most important amendments in the 2004 law
dealt with program integrity — improvements to rules governing certification and
verification of eligibility, new procedures to upgrade administration of school meal
programs, and new technical assistance and training.
As to school meal program operations, few changes were made (e.g., expansion
of eligibility for homeless, runaway, and migrant children and youth, loosened rules
for higher “severe need” school breakfast subsidies). And, a major (and costly)
proposal to phase in higher income eligibility limits for free school meals was limited
to authorization for a small pilot project.
Another major set of issues involved nutrition, health, and nutrition education
aspects of child nutrition programs, particularly childhood obesity trends and the role
of child nutrition programs and school environments (like physical activities) in
dealing with this, the rules governing the offering of milk and milk substitutes, foods
sold in competition with school meals, food safety, and the desire of some to
substantially increase funding commitments for nutrition education. While a number
of federally led options were offered, in the end, the most significant change was a
requirement that all schools participating in school meal programs establish locally
designed “wellness policies” to tackle obesity- and nutrition/health-related issues
(like competitive foods and students’ physical activity), with federal technical
assistance and other support. Nutrition education provisions encompassed a series
of authorizations, but no new funding. In related amendments, the program offering
free fresh fruit and vegetables operating in selected schools in a few states was
expanded and made permanent, and important changes were made to food safety
Small changes also were made in the Summer Food Service and Child and Adult
Care Food programs — for example, making permanent and expanding the coverage
of pre-existing “simplified summer program” (so-called “Lugar”) rules that make it
easier for summer program sponsors to participate, making permanent and nationally
applicable a pre-existing rule loosening eligibility requirements for for-profit child
care centers wishing to participate in the Child and Adult Care Food program.
Finally, a large number of revisions were made to the WIC program, but the
most significant were several aimed at strengthening rules containing food costs
incurred by the program. Of these, the most controversial was a new provision
placing substantial limits on vendors receiving the majority of their revenue from
WIC vouchers (so-called “WIC-only” stores).
The 2004 reauthorization law extended virtually all expiring child nutrition and
WIC appropriations authorizations and other authorities through FY2009.6 In
6 Five authorities were made permanent: (1) a requirement to use Section 32 funds to
maintain commodity support for child nutrition programs, (2) simplified summer food
programs, (3) certain rules governing the treatment of for-profit child care centers, (4) the
fresh fruit and vegetable program, and (5) permission to use Section 32 funds to dispose of
addition, it made a wide range of changes to child nutrition and WIC law as described
in the following sections.
Program Integrity in School Meal Programs:
Certification and Verification of Eligibility.
!Role of Local Educational Agencies (LEAs). Stipulates that LEAs
are effectively responsible for certification and verification of
eligibility for free and reduced-price school meals — as opposed to
local “school food authorities,” which conduct school meal program
day-to-day operations and also were in charge of certification and
verification under pre-existing law.
!Descriptive Materials and Communications with Families.
Requires that descriptive materials provided to parents contain
notification that (1) participants in certain other income-tested
programs may be eligible for free or reduced-price school meals and
(2) documentation may be requested for verification of eligibility.
Also directs that any communications with families for eligibility
determination or verification purposes be in an understandable
format in a language that parents can understand (to the extent
possible). Grants explicit permission for Internet applications and
descriptive materials. Individual applications for each child in a
family are, in most cases, barred.
!Direct Certification of Eligibility. In order to reduce the number of
paper applications that need to be reviewed, by relying on
verification already conducted in other venues, requires that LEAs
use direct certification — certification of eligibility for free and
reduced-price school meals (without application) by direct
communication with appropriate state or local agencies — for any
child who is member of a food stamp household. This direct
certification mandate is phased in, beginning with the largest LEAs,
through the 2007-2008 school year. In addition, permissive authority
is granted to employ direct certification for children in Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) households, homeless
children, children served by programs under the Runaway and
Homeless Youth Act, and migrant children. [Note: Under pre-
unsafe foods. One authority (a “management support initiative” in the Child and Adult Care
Food program) that expired with FY2003 was reinstated for FY2005 and FY2006. A waiver
of a requirement on how schools measure the nutrient content of their meals (use of
“weighted averages”) that expired with FY2003 was reinstated, as was authority for an
Information Clearinghouse. One expiring authority (authorization of funds for certain
training and technical assistance activities) was extended through FY2008. One authority
(for a nutrition education and training program) was replaced with a new initiative. And one
expiring authority — a small effort funding food and nutrition projects that are integrated
with elementary school curricula — was not renewed.
existing law, direct certification was permitted for children in food
stamp and TANF households.]
!Verification of a Sample of Applications. For those not directly
certified eligible for free or reduced-price school meals, mandates
that a sample of approved applications be selected for verification of
their eligibility by directly communicating with the family (or direct
verification, see below). [Note: Prior to verifying with the family,
the application must be reviewed by an individual other than the
person who approved it.] The required sample size for each LEA
varies, but, in most cases, the new law calls for it to be significantly
larger than under pre-existing (regulatory) rules.
!Direct Verification. In conducting eligibility verification of the
sample of approved applications, permits LEAs to first use direct
verification — obtain and use income and program participation
information about the applicant family from certain public agencies
— before contacting the family. Direct verification is to be
evaluated and, if found to be effective in obtaining adequate
information and reducing the number of applications that must be
verified by contacting families directly, may be made mandatory.
!Individual Family Verification. For families not directly certified
or directly verified, requires LEAs to conduct verification through
contact with the family. This includes a written request for
information and phone contact if necessary. In the case of families
not responding to a verification request, LEAs are required to make
at least one additional attempt to obtain information and may use a
third party to assist them in these “follow-up” activities. [Note:
Nonresponse results in disqualification.]
!Funding. Provides mandatory funding (1) to assist in carrying out
direct certification and verification activities and (2) to evaluate
Program Integrity in School Meal Programs:
Administrative Error Reduction.
!Federal Administrative Support. Provides mandatory funding to
the Agriculture Department to (1) provide training and technical
assistance and materials related to improving program integrity and
administrative accuracy in school meal programs and (2) assist state
agencies in reviewing the administrative practices of local agencies.
Requires the development and distribution of materials
representative of “best management and administrative practices.”
!Additional Administrative Reviews. Mandates that state agencies
conduct special administrative reviews — beyond those carried out
as part of the regular “Coordinated Review Effort” (CRE)
compliance and accountability reviews — of local agencies that have
demonstrated a high level of, or a high risk for, administrative error
in application, certification, verification, meal counting, and meal
claiming procedures. Those local agencies failing to meet
performance criteria would be required to develop and carry out
corrective action plans (with the state agency’s assistance). If they
fail to meet the criteria in both initial and follow-up reviews, local
agencies could be subject to financial penalties (retention of funds
otherwise due them).
!Training. Requires state agencies to provide training in
administrative practices to local agency administrative personnel.
The Agriculture Department may support this training or provide it
!Funds for Administrative Reviews and Training. Provides
mandatory funding to the Agriculture Department to assist state
agencies in carrying out additional administrative reviews and
training in administrative practices.
!Technology. Requires that state child nutrition plans submitted for
state administrative expense funding include information as to how
technology and information management systems will be used to
improve program integrity. Also requires a study of the use of
computer technology to reduce eligibility certification errors and
other “waste, fraud, and abuse.” Authorizes the Agriculture
Department to provide competitive grants to state agencies to award
to local agencies to defray the cost of purchasing/upgrading
technology and information systems.
!Compliance and Accountability. Increases the appropriations
authorization for compliance and accountability reviews of local
school meal program agencies.7
School Meal Programs (School Lunches and Breakfasts).8
!Runaway, Homeless, and Migrant Youth. Establishes in law (as
opposed to administrative guidance) the automatic (categorical)
eligibility of homeless children for free school meals. Also makes
youth served by grant programs under the Runaway and Homeless
Youth Act and migrant children automatically eligible for free
7 Compliance and accountability reviews also are referred to as the “Coordinated Review
Effort” (CRE). The amendment increases the authorization from $3 million to $6 million
a year; however, these reviews have typically been appropriated funds above the $3 million-
8 Also, see the “Program Integrity” sections of this report.
!Duration of Eligibility. Mandates that eligibility for free or
reduced-price school meals remains valid for one year for most
!Military Housing Allowances. Makes permanent a rule
disregarding military housing allowances for those living in
“privatized” housing when judging eligibility for free or reduced-
price school meals.
!“Severe Need” School Breakfast Program Subsidies. Removes a
requirement that schools document their costs in order to receive
higher “severe need” school breakfast subsidies, allowing them to
receive the maximum subsidy rather than the lesser of documented
costs or the severe need rate.9
!Pilot Expansion of Eligibility for Free School Meals. Authorizes
a pilot project in all or parts of 5 states under which the income limit
for free school meals would be raised from 130% of the federal
poverty income guidelines to 185% of the guidelines (the current
limit for reduced-price meals).
!Evaluation. Authorizes funds for annual national performance
assessments of child nutrition meal service programs.
!“Best Practices.” Authorizes funding for a review of “best
practices” in the School Breakfast program so as to assist schools in
addressing impediments to the growth of the program.
Nutrition, Health, and Nutrition Education.
!Local Wellness Policies. Requires local educational agencies
participating in school meal programs to establish local “school
wellness” policies, as they determine appropriate. These policies
would include goals for nutrition education, physical activity, and
other school-based activities, nutrition guidelines for all foods
available on campus during the school day, a plan for measuring
implementation of the policy, and involvement of parents, students,
school and school meal administrators, and the public. The
Agriculture Department is directed to make available information
and technical assistance to support this initiative and is given
mandatory funding to provide it.
!Nutrition Education/Promotion. Replaces (unfunded) authority for
a nutrition education and training program with authorization for
grants to states to implement “team nutrition networks” that support
nutrition education through a wide variety of means, such as the use
9 Schools receive severe-need breakfast subsidies if they served 40%+ of their lunches free
or at a reduced price in the second preceding year.
of nutrition education messages, promotion of active lifestyles, pilot
projects, model curricula, data gathering, health and physical activity
guidelines. Authorizes funds to promote improved nutrition through
the dissemination and use of nutrition messages and materials
developed by the Agriculture Department. Authorizes grants to
entities with expertise in health education programs for limited-
English-proficient individuals to enhance obesity prevention
activities. Requires the Agriculture Department to issue
recommendations for the increased consumption of foods in school
meal programs based on the most recent Dietary Guidelines for
Americans. Authorizes grants to local educational agencies to create
healthy school nutrition environments, promote healthy eating
habits, and increase physical activity among elementary and
secondary students. In support of nutrition education goals,
authorizes technical assistance and grants to improve the quality of
!Milk. Places into law rules governing the offering of milk and milk
substitutes that differ minimally from pre-existing law and
regulations. Schools must offer fluid milk in a variety of fat
contents, may offer flavored, unflavored, and lactose-free milk, and
must provide a milk substitute for students whose “disability”
restricts their diet (on written request of a physician). In addition,
schools may substitute a non-dairy beverage that is nutritionally
equivalent to milk for students who cannot consume milk because of
a “medical or other special dietary need” (on the written request of
a medical authority or parent).
!“Weighted Averages.” Reinstates a waiver of a requirement that
schools use “weighted averages” — that measure the nutrient content
of meals according to food items actually chosen by students —
when doing a nutrient analysis of their school meal programs.
!Food Safety. Increases the number of required food safety
inspections, requires state and federal audits of the inspections, and
mandates that school food safety programs comply with any “hazard
analysis and critical control point” (HACCP) system established by
the Agriculture Department.
!Irradiated Foods. Requires the Agriculture Department to establish
procedures relating to irradiated food products distributed by the
Department to school meal programs. They must ensure that
irradiated foods are provided only on request, that schools receive
information about irradiation technology and its relation to safe food
handling, that schools get models for providing information about
irradiated foods to parents and students, that irradiated products are
appropriately labeled and not commingled with other foods, and that
schools are encouraged to offer alternatives.
!Technology. Requires state child nutrition plans to contain
information as to how they may use their state administrative
expense grant for information management systems that monitor the
nutrient content of meals and authorizes funds for competitive grants
to defray the cost of purchasing/upgrading technology and
information systems doing this task.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetables, WIC Farmers’ Markets,
and Locally Produced Food.
!Free Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Requires the
Agriculture Department to operate a permanent fresh fruit and
vegetable program under which free fresh fruit and vegetables are
made available to students in participating schools. This expands on
a pre-existing pilot project available in five states and one Indian
reservation and adds three states and two Indian reservations. In
both the pilot and the expanded permanent program, the program is
available in only a very small number of schools in each state or
Indian reservation. Mandatory annual funding is provided for this
!WIC Farmers’ Market Program. Reduces the state match to 30%
of administrative costs (rather than 30% of total costs), increases the
limit on the federal share of benefits from $20 to $30 per participant
per year, and makes roadside stands eligible to participate at state
option. This program provides vouchers to WIC recipients to buy
fresh fruit and vegetables at participating farmers’ markets.
!Locally Produced Foods. Authorizes funding for the Agriculture
Department to encourage schools to purchase locally produced
foods, including grants to defray initial infrastructure costs incurred
in carrying out this policy. Authorizes the Agriculture Department
to provide competitive matching grants and technical assistance for
projects that improve access to local foods through “farm-to-
cafeteria” activities, procurement from small- and medium-size
farms, support for school garden programs, and farm-based nutrition
education projects. Authorizes the Agriculture Department to
provide technical assistance and grants to improve access to local
foods in schools.
!Fruit and Vegetables in the WIC Program. Authorizes the
Secretary to award grants to evaluate the feasibility of including
fresh, frozen, or canned fruit and vegetables as an addition to food
items in regular WIC food packages.
10 A later law, P.L. 109-97, added and provided new funding for six more states under this
Summer Food Service Program.
!Simplified Summer Programs (“Lugar” Rules). Makes permanent
rules that allow summer program sponsors to receive the maximum
summer program subsidy rates without providing documentation of
costs and expands their application to 6 additional states (beyond 13
states and Puerto Rico covered under pre-existing law).
!“Seamless Summer Option.” Creates, in law (as opposed to
administrative policy), an option that allows schools to administer
summer or school vacation food service using the rules (and subsidy
rates) of regular school meal programs.
!Pilot Projects. Establishes and funds four pilot projects — (1) a
project that, in rural parts of Pennsylvania, makes it easier for the
area to qualify for “open-site” summer program status (in which all
participating children are served free meals), (2) grants to increase
participation in the summer program through innovative approaches
to transportation in rural areas, (3) modification of eligibility criteria
for residential summer camps serving low-income children in order
to evaluate alternative means of judging camps’ eligibility to
participate in the summer program, and (4) a project in California
whereby local governments and private nonprofit organizations
could receive summer program subsidy rates for up to 2 meals a day
during the summer, school breaks, after-school hours, and weekends
(as an alternative to after-school nutrition projects, the regular
summer program and the seamless summer option noted above).
Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
!For-Profit Day Care Centers. Makes permanent (and nationally
applicable) a pre-existing rule that allows for-profit day care centers
to qualify for CACFP assistance if at least 25% of the children they
serve are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals (have family
income below 185% of the federal poverty income guidelines).
!Emergency Homeless Shelters: Age Limit. Allows CACFP
subsidies to be paid for free meals/snacks served by emergency
homeless shelters to all children not more than 18 years old and to
children with disabilities — up from an age limit of 12 years (15 for
children of migrant workers).
!Management Support Initiative. Reinstates and provides
mandatory funding (in FY2005 and FY2006 only) for an initiative
offering training and technical assistance to aid state agencies in
improving their management and oversight of the CACFP.
!Pilot Project. In rural areas of Nebraska, lowers the eligibility
threshold applied to family day care homes wishing to qualify for
“Tier I” (higher CACFP subsidy rates) status — for fiscal years
FY2006 and FY2007.
!Paperwork Reduction. Requires the Agriculture Department to
examine the feasibility of reducing paperwork associated with
CACFP regulations and recordkeeping requirements for state
agencies, day care homes and sponsors, and child care centers.
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women,
Infants, and Children (the WIC Program).
!Breastfeeding Women. Increases the potential eligibility period for
!Physical Presence. Expands authority for state agencies to waive
the requirement that each individual seeking WIC benefits be
physically present to determine eligibility to cover certain infants
under eight weeks of age.
!Review of Food Packages. Requires the Agriculture Department to
conduct future periodic scientific reviews of foods included in WIC
food packages and change them as necessary. Also requires an
update of WIC food packages within 18 months after the most
current review (initiated in September 2003) is completed.
!“Rounding Up.” Allows state agencies to round up to the next
whole can size of infant formula when issuing WIC vouchers in
order to ensure that all infants receive the full authorized nutritional
benefit specified by regulation.
!Use of WIC Vouchers. Requires state agencies to permit WIC
recipients to transact their vouchers at any authorized store in the
Cost Containment Policies
!“WIC-Only Stores.” Substantially revises procedures aimed at
containing the cost of WIC vouchers by instituting new rules state
agencies must follow to control costs charged by vendors whose
revenue is derived primarily (50%+) from the sale of WIC food
11 Also, see the section of this report entitled “Fresh Fruit and Vegetables, WIC Farmers’
Markets, and Locally Produced Food.”
items, effectively constraining (or ending) their participation
depending on the prices they charge for WIC items.12
!State Alliances. Limits the size of alliances through which state
agencies join together to solicit sole-source bids from infant formula
manufacturers, in order to bolster competition in the bidding process.
!“Primary Contract” Infant Formula. Requires state agencies to
use the “primary” infant formula they have contracted with
manufacturers to supply, with all other infant formulas issued as an
!Uncoupling Milk- and Soy-based Infant Formula Bids. Requires
that large state agencies/alliances solicit sole-source bids from infant
formula manufacturers using procedures under which bids and
discounts (rebates) are solicited separately for milk-based and soy-
!“Cent-for-Cent” Adjustments. Mandates a cent-for-cent decrease
in rebates received by states from infant formula manufacturers if
there is a decrease in the lowest national wholesale price for a full
truckload of a particular formula — just as pre-existing law required
cent-for-cent increases when wholesale prices increase.
!Accelerated Approval. Requires that state agencies have procedures
for accepting and processing vendor applications outside the
agency’s normal time-frame if there will be inadequate access to the
!Notification of Violations. Directs state agencies to notify vendors
of an initial violation of WIC rules if they are found to have
committed a violation that requires a pattern of occurrences in order
to impose a penalty.
!List of Infant Formula Providers. Requires state agencies to
maintain lists of infant formula food wholesalers, distributors, and
retailers approved to provide infant formula for the WIC program
and mandates that vendors purchase infant formula from those on the
state agency’s list.
!EBT Costs. Bars the imposition of any costs related to electronic
benefit transfer (EBT) systems on vendors.
12 A separate provision generally bars WIC-only stores that provide “incentive items” or
other free merchandise to program participants.
13 Also see Cost Containment Policies, “WIC-only” stores, above.
Use of Funds and Administration
!Earmarked Funding. Requires the use of $64 million a year (or the
amount of WIC funding for the prior year that has not been
obligated, if less) for program infrastructure, special projects to
promote breastfeeding or of regional/national significance,
management information systems, and special nutrition education
activities (such as breastfeeding peer counselors).
!“Spend-forward.” Increases the limit on the proportion of the
nutrition services and administration component of their WIC grant
that state agencies may spend in the following fiscal year — from
!Universal Product Codes. Mandates that the Agriculture
Department establish and maintain a national universal product code
(UPC) database for states’ use in carrying out the WIC program.
State Administrative Expenses.
!Minimum State Grants. Increases the minimum state grant for child
nutrition program administrative expenses from $100,000 to
$200,000 (indexed after FY2008).
Technical Assistance and Training.14
!Food Service Management Institute (FSMI). Adds four areas in
which the FSMI is required to provide technical assistance and
training — “hazard analysis and critical point plan” (HACCP)
implementation by schools carrying out new food safety
requirements, emergency readiness, responding to food recalls, and
food bio-security training. Increases mandatory funding for the
!Technology and School Breakfast Expansion. Adds two new
potential uses for training and technical assistance funding — (1) aid
to states (on a competitive basis) for the purpose of helping schools
with large populations of low-income children in meeting the cost of
acquiring/upgrading technology and information management
systems used for child nutrition programs and (2) assistance to states
(on a competitive basis) with low proportions of schools/children
participating in the School Breakfast program in meeting costs
associated with initiating/expanding the breakfast program.
!Procurement Training. Authorizes the Agriculture Department to
provide technical assistance and training in the procurement of goods
and services for child nutrition programs, including help in ensuring
14 Also, see the “Program Integrity” sections of this report.
compliance with “Buy American” requirements and procuring safe
foods (e.g., model specifications).
!Information Clearinghouse. Reinstates, extends, and increases the
appropriations authorization for a small nongovernmental
information clearinghouse that provides information to
nongovernmental groups that assist low-income individuals and
communities with food assistance and self-help activities to reduce
reliance on government agencies.
!Permanent Authority. Makes permanent two pre-existing
commodity support authorities — (1) the requirement that the
Agriculture Department use Section 32 and Commodity Credit
Corporation funds to maintain annually programmed levels of
commodity support for child nutrition programs and (2) permission
to use Section 32 funds to remove and dispose of unsafe foods
donated to child nutrition programs by the Agriculture Department.
Other Legislated Changes
In addition to the 2004 child nutrition reauthorization (and the two related short-
term extensions of expiring authorities noted in the earlier History section), several
relatively minor changes to the laws and policies governing child nutrition and WIC
programs have been enacted in the 108th and 109th Congresses:
!P.L. 108-30. Extended the availability of funds for the project
providing fresh fruit and vegetables in schools through the 2003-
!P.L. 108-375. Included in the FY2005 National Defense
Authorization Act was a provision requiring that child nutrition and
WIC programs disregard “supplemental subsistence allowances”
received by military families when judging eligibility.
!P.L. 108-447. Included in the Agriculture Department component
of this omnibus FY2005 appropriations measure were two child
nutrition/WIC provisions: (1) permission for the Department to
reallocate among states unused Child and Adult Care Food Program
(CACFP) audit funds and (2) a rule barring approval of any new
retailers under the WIC program whose major source of revenue is
derived from WIC program vouchers (“WIC-only” stores).
15 This pilot project preceded the permanent program established in the 2004 child nutrition
!P.L. 109-97. Included in this FY2006 Agriculture Department
appropriations law were five child nutrition/WIC provisions: (1)
continued permission to reallocate CACFP audit funds, (2)
continuation of the rule barring approval of any new WIC-only
stores, (3) an amendment speeding up the availability of funds to be
used by the Agriculture Department to support development of local
school “wellness policies” (to be available immediately instead of
July 2006), (4) expansion of simplified summer program (“Lugar”)
rules to cover seven more states (allowing sponsors to receive
maximum subsidy rates without cost documentation), and (5)
provision of $6 million to expand the program offering free fresh
fruit and vegetables in selected schools to six additional states.
Proposals Since the 2004 Reauthorization Law
A number of bills that would directly affect child nutrition programs have been
introduced since the enactment of the 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorizationth16
Act on June 30,2004, primarily in the 109 Congress. The following listing covers
the 109th Congress and includes notes where the same measure was introduced in theth
108 Congress (after June 2004). It does not cover legislative proposals made by the
Administration in its FY2007 budget submission; for details on those, refer to CRS
Report RL33412, Agriculture and Related Agencies: FY2007 Appropriations,
coordinated by Jim Monke.
!H.R. 203. Expands the program providing free fresh fruit and
vegetables in selected schools to one additional state (New York),
and includes Head Start programs as potential participants.
!H.R. 204. Increases the amount of money for CACFP audits from
!H.R. 844. Establishes automatic eligibility for free school meals for
children of active duty enlisted members of the Armed Forces and17
!H.R. 1589. Family and Workplace Balancing Act. Along with
changes to programs outside child nutrition programs, establishes a
“universal” free breakfast program, directs grants to schools to create
16 The bills noted here do not include general “anti-hunger” measures and omnibus
initiatives introduced in the 108th and 109th Congresses to reduce/prevent childhood obesityth
and improve schoolchildren’s health. A bill in the 109 Congress that would indirectly
affect school meal program operations by authorizing funding for vending machines offering
healthy foods in schools (H.R. 2763, the Student Nutrition and Health Act) also is not
17 This bill is the same as H.R. 5229 in the 108th Congress.
“healthy school nutrition environments,” and expands the
availability of CACFP subsidies for suppers served through after-
school programs to all states.18
!H.R. 5344. Summer Food Service Program Improvement Act of
2006. Lowers the threshold that summer program sponsors must
meet to gain “open-site” status (where all meals/snacks are served
free in projects located in low-income neighborhoods). Extends
applicability of “Lugar” rules to all states (see S. 1005, below).
Establishes a startup grant program to provide assistance to sponsors
wishing to initiate summer food service programs.
!S. 1005. Extends applicability of simplified summer program
(“Lugar”) rules to all states; these rules allow summer sponsors to
receive maximum subsidy rates, without cost documentation, in 26
states and Puerto Rico.
!S. 1556/H.R. 3562. Authorizes expansion of the program providing
free fruit and vegetables in selected schools to all states.19
!S. 1695. Hurricane Katrina Food Assistance Relief Act. Establishes
specific authority in child nutrition law to modify child nutrition
program conditions of operation in the case of natural disasters, and
provides extra funding for the WIC program in the wake of
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
!S. 2592/H.R. 5167. Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch
Protection Act. Requires the Secretary of Agriculture to revise (and
effectively expand) the definition of “foods of minimal nutritional
value” that may not be offered in competition with school meals.
Requires that the expanded definition bar these food items from
being offered on school campuses at any time.
Proposals Pending During Consideration
of the 2004 Reauthorization Law
In th 108th Congress, a number of bills were introduced to make changes in child
nutrition and WIC programs — in addition to the omnibus bills reported by the
House Education and the Workforce Committee and the Senate Agriculture,
Nutrition, and Forestry Committee (H.R. 3873 and S. 2507), which formed the basis
for the final 2004 reauthorization law, and the two bills that became the laws
extending child nutrition and WIC authorizations while Congress considered
reauthorization (H.R. 3232 and S. 2241). Many of these initiatives (or variations)
18 These proposals also were put forward in H.R. 3780 in the 108th Congress. CACFP
subsidies for suppers are currently offered in seven states.
19 These provisions are effectively the same as those put forward in H.R. 4800 in the 108th
were included in the House and Senate committee bills and the final law. They are
as follows —
!H.R. 1551. Safe School Food Act. Adds to food safety
requirements for schools participating in school meal programs.
!H.R. 2227. Obesity Prevention Act. Establishes grants for local
school nutrition and physical fitness (“wellness”) projects.
!H.R. 2592. Healthy America Act. Expands the availability of fruit
and vegetables in child nutrition and WIC programs.
!H.R. 2626/S. 1755. Farm-to-Cafeteria Projects Act. Authorizes
grants for farm-to-cafeteria projects.
!H.R. 2832. Healthy Nutrition for America’s Children Act. Expands
the program providing free fresh fruit and vegetables in selected
!H.R. 2987/S. 1392. Establishes “healthy school nutrition
environment” grants and broadens rules regulating the offering of
foods in competition with school meals.
!H.R. 3022. School Nutrition Antibiotic Safety Act. Bars the
Agriculture Department from acquiring chickens that have been
fed/administered fluoroquinolone antibiotics for distribution to
school meal programs.
!H.R. 3120. Right to Know School Nutrition Act. Mandates the
provision of information about the irradiation of foods used in
school meal programs.
!H.R. 3250/S. 1367. Child Nutrition Improvement Act. Includes
provisions to increase milk consumption in schools and support for
“healthy school environment” projects.
!H.R. 3416. Healthy Children Through Better Nutrition Act.
Omnibus alternative child nutrition/WIC reauthorization proposal.
!H.R. 3869. Pride in the Lunch Line Act. Authorizes grants to assist
schools in upgrading technology and information systems used in
operating school meal programs.
!S. 448/H.R. 936. Leave No Child Left Behind Act. Among other
provisions, expands the CACFP.
!S. 995. Child Nutrition Initiatives Act. Provides for (1) grants to
encourage more nutritious school meals and (2) grants for farm-to-
cafeteria projects. Increases child nutrition state administrative
expense grants for small states and funding for WIC farmers’
markets. Provides funding for the Nutrition Education and Training
!S. 996. Commodity Distribution Act. Increases federally provided
commodity support for school meal programs.
!S. 1007/H.R. 4519. Better Nutrition for School Children Act.
Broadens rules regulating the offering of foods in competition with
!S. 1020. School Breakfast Improvement Act. Increases School
Breakfast program subsidies; provides for start-up and expansion
grants for breakfast programs; authorizes “universal” free breakfast
!S. 1021/H.R. 3930. Summer Food Service Improvement Act.
Provides for the expansion of the Summer Food Service program.
!S. 1022. Child and Adult Care Food Program Improvement Act.
Provides for the expansion of the CACFP.
!S. 1393. Expands the program providing free fresh fruit and
vegetables in selected schools.
!S. 1549/H.R. 3441. Provides for the phase-out of reduced-price
school meals by raising the income eligibility test for free school
!S. 1750/S. 1829. Better Eating for Better Living Act. Increases
school lunch subsidies; requires periodic reviews of school meal
nutrition guidelines; modifies rules regulating milk served in
schools; provides funding for the Nutrition Education and Training
!S. 2183. Early Attention to Nutrition Act. Establishes “Team
Nutrition Network” grants to promote the nutritional health of