The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 is set to expire on Sept. 30. Many expect Congress will sign-off on a short-term extension. A full reauthorization is expected. However, some lawmakers and nutrition advocates want to strengthen the existing law that presently provides food aid for millions of low-income children and pregnant women. The federal government spends about $15 billion a year on the programs operated under the law.
The legislation has been pushed to the sidelines as Congress focuses on economic recovery, health care reform, food safety and climate change. Cathy Schuchart, child nutrition and policy staff vice president for the School Nutrition Association, expects making changes in the bill will be difficult.
Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, says simply renewing the current law is insufficient. He points out that the recession has underscored both the many strengthens and the still remaining weaknesses of the nation's child nutrition programs. Weill believes lawmakers need to move as quickly as possible this year or early next year to strengthen the programs.