Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010

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The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (Pub.L. 111–296) is a federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on December 13, 2010. The bill is part of the reauthorization of funding for child nutrition (see the original Child Nutrition Act). The bill funds child nutrition programs and free lunch programs in schools for the next 5 years.[1] In addition, the bill sets new nutrition standards for schools, and allocates $4.5 billion for their implementation.[1] The new nutrition standards have been a point initiative of First Lady Michelle Obama in her fight against childhood obesity as part of her Let's Move! initiative.[2] In FY 2011, federal spending totaled $10.1 billion for the National School Lunch Program.[3]

According to the US Department of Agriculture, for the 2012-13 school year, 21.5 million USA children received a free lunch or reduced-price lunch at school.[4] Across the U.S, the school lunch program varies by state.[5]

Legislative history

The bill was introduced in the US Senate by Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.[6] It was later approved by the Senate by unanimous voice vote on August 5, 2010. In the U.S. House of Representatives The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act passed with 247 Democrats and 17 Republicans voting for, and 4 Democrats and 153 Republicans voting against it.[7] President Barack Obama signed the bill into law on December 13, 2010. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act took effect in 2014.[8] Senators Charles Schumer, (D-NY) and Kirsten Gillibrand, (D-NY) pushed for Greek yogurt, much of which is manufactured in Utica, NY, to be included in the regulations determining acceptable proteins to be served at school.[9]


The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to make significant changes to the school lunch program for the first time in over 30 years.[10] In addition to funding standard child nutrition and school lunch programs, there are several new nutritional standards in the bill. The main aspects are listed below.[1]

New nutrition standards

  • Gives USDA the authority to set new standards for food sold in lunches during the regular day, including vending machines.[11]
  • Authorizes additional funds for the new standards for federal-subsidized school lunches.
  • Provides resources for schools and communities to utilize local farms and gardens to provide fresh produce.
  • Provides resources to increase nutritional quality of food provided by USDA
  • Sets minimal standards for school wellness policies
  • Limits milk served to nonfat flavored milk or 1 percent white milk[12]
  • Reduced portion sizes in meals

Increases access

  • Increased the number of eligible children for school meal programs by 115,000
  • Uses census data to determine student need in high-poverty areas, rather than relying on paper applications.[13]
  • Authorizes USDA to provide meals in more after-school programs in "high-risk" areas
  • Increases access to drinking water in schools

Program monitoring

  • Requires school districts to be audited every 3 years to see if they have met nutrition standards[14]
  • Requires easier access for students and parents about nutritional facts of meals
  • Improves recall procedures for school food
  • Provides training for school lunch providers[15]


A YouTube video, produced by Wallace High School students drew national attention and over 1 million views. The video complained of its student's being "hungry" due to reduced portion sizes relative to those prior to the new law.[16] In response to viewing the video, nutrition specialists explained that before the new standards were implemented, some schools may have been serving a lot of protein to keep their customers happy, "but none of us need as much protein as a lot of us eat". The experts also explained that eating 850 calories at lunch is enough for most high schoolers[17]

In response to the criticism, the USDA issued modified standards which were intended to be more flexible.[18]

External Links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Child Nutrition Fact Sheet,
  2. Kelly, Megyn (26 September 2012). "Students Choose to Go Hungry Rather than Eat Healthy School Lunches". Fox News Insider. FOX News Network. Retrieved 13 February 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Food research and Action Center (2010). "National School Lunch Program".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "2012-2013 Participation School Meals". 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. School Nutrition Association (2013). "State-by-State Listing for School Meal Mandates and Reimbursements - As of April 2013" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. (2010). "". External link in |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Strom, Stephanie (27 June 2013). "Writer". New York Times. Retrieved 28 June 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Mark Weiner (January 9, 2014). "Schumer: Kids eat up Chobani yogurt in USDA school lunch test".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "School Meals." Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. USDA, 3 Mar. 2014. Google. Web. 13 Apr. 2015. <>.
  11. US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (January 26, 2012). "Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs; Final Rule" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Brian McCready (March 31, 2012). "Feds to require students to buy fruit, vegetables with school cafeteria Lunch". New Haven Register.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Madeleine Levin Food Research and Action Center (2010). "Provision 2 of the National School Lunch Act" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (February 22, 2013). "National School Lunch Program: Direct Certification Continuous Improvement Plans Required by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service. "School Meals Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act". Retrieved May 5, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "We Are Hungry video". 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Nanci Hellmich (2012-09-28). "Students push back on new school lunches". USA TODAY.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. USDA Office of Communications (January 3, 2014). "USDA Makes Permanent Meat and Grain Serving Flexibilities in National School Lunch Program".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>