ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports:
With First Lady Michelle Obama by his side, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act into law today, noting that if he hadn’t been able to get this bill passed he would be “sleeping on the couch.”
“At a very basic level, this act is about doing what's right for our children,” President Obama said from the Harriet Tubman Elementary School this morning. “Because when our kids walk into the lunch room, we want to be sure that they're getting balanced, nutritious meals that they need to succeed in the classroom.”
The bill provides $4.5 billion to schools over the next decade and sets standards for food served in school cafeterias, vending machines and stores. The legislation, Mr. Obama touted, will help 115,000 children get school meal programs and reimburses schools an additional six cents per lunch to help them provide healthier options. The president made sure to note that the bill is fully paid for and will not add a dime to the deficit.
“Some of the funding comes from rolling back a temporary increase in food stamp efforts, or SNAP, as it's now called, starting in the fall of 2013. I know a number of members of Congress have expressed concerns about this offset being included in the bill, and I'm committed to working with them to restore these funds in the future.”
Mrs. Obama, herself an advocate of combating childhood obesity, spoke after her husband, painting the school lunch meals as “vital” for combating hunger, and improving the health of the nation’s children. The First Lady says that obesity isn’t just a public health issue, but one of an “economic threat,” and “national security threat,” as one in four young children are unqualified for military service because of their weight.
“I think that parents have a right to expect that their efforts at home won't be undone each day in the school cafeteria or in the vending machine in the hallway,” Mrs. Obama said, “I think that our parents have a right to expect that their kids will be served fresh, healthy food that meets high nutritional standards. And particularly in these tough economic times when so many families are struggling, when school meals sometimes are the main source of nourishment for so many kids, we have an obligation to make sure that those meals are as nutritious as possible.”