Friends of the Earth Applauds Child Nutrition Measures to Increase Plant-Based School Meal and Beverage Options
WASHINGTON – Today, the House Committee on Labor and Education introduced the “Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act” Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation. The bill, which is expected to be marked up in committee before Congress leaves for August recess, includes groundbreaking provisions that:
- Increase meal reimbursement rates to school districts and expand access to school meals, including summer meals;
- Create a new $10 million pilot grant program to support plant-based school meals;
- Reduce food loss and waste through a new pilot grants program;
- Enhance the ability of school districts to pursue values-driven food procurement; and
- Remove barriers for students to access nutritionally appropriate beverage options.
The inclusion of the plant-based school meal pilot program in the legislation follows a year-long campaign for the Healthy Future Students and Earth Act, a bill cosponsored by 38 members of Congress and endorsed by 120+ organizations. Earlier this year, Grammy award winning artist Billie Eilish and food justice and climate activist Maggie Baird spoke at a Capitol Hill briefing in support of the legislation.
Chloë Waterman, senior program manager for Food and Agriculture at Friends of the Earth, made the following statement:
In the midst of supply chain and labor challenges, worsening climate change, and ongoing child hunger, the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act meets the moment. This visionary legislation recognizes the importance of investing in the health of our children and the planet they will inherit. We applaud Chairman Scott for introducing this Act and urge the committee to swiftly advance it to the House floor.
Friends of the Earth is especially thrilled to see the inclusion of a new voluntary grant program to support schools meet the increased student demand for climate-friendly, plant-based meal options. We are also grateful for provisions to remove barriers for students to access plant-based milk options, which is crucial for ensuring equity in our school meal program. Thank you to Representatives Velázquez, Bowman, Espaillat, and Wilson for championing these measures, as well as the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
Communications contact: Kerry Skiff, [email protected], 202-222-0723