In early December President Barack Obama signed the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act,” which First Lady Michelle Obama lauded as “a groundbreaking piece of bipartisan legislation that will significantly improve the quality of meals that children receive at school and will play an integral role in our efforts to combat childhood obesity.”

The $4.5 billion bill will expand access to free and reduced-price meals to children in need and also seek to fortify the nutritional profile of all meals served nationwide in the school lunch program. The bill includes these highlights:

  • nutritional guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for all foods sold in schools, including vending machine goods
  • restrictions on junk foods and sugary beverages that offer little or no nutritional value to students
  • $40 million in funding earmarked for a farm-to-school program that will provide children with locally grown produce and give schools the means to establish their own gardens and grow food to be consumed at school
  • an increase in the reimbursement rate to schools of 6 cents per lunch
  • development and fortification of school wellness policies through updated requirements and community involvement

“Over the past two years, I have had the privilege of speaking with parents, educators, governors and mayors, medical professionals, community and business leaders, and students all across the country—all of whom are determined to ensure that our children have access to the nutritious food they need to learn and grow and fulfill their potential,” said the First Lady in a White House press release. “I’m proud of what we’re doing to support these efforts through our Let’s Move! initiative, and I am confident that, together, we can turn the tide on childhood obesity and give all our children the happy, healthy lives they deserve.”