The federal child nutrition programs are permanently authorized, meaning that Congress does not have to take any ongoing action for the programs to continue. However, there is a regular process to revise the legislation, known as Child Nutrition Reauthorization or CNR, in order to make needed updates and changes. This traditionally occurs every five years.
The last Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act was the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which passed in 2010.
The Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act was introduced in the House of Representatives on July 20, 2022. The House Education and Labor Committee, which has jurisdiction over the CNR process in the House of Representatives, passed it out of committee. This is comprehensive legislation that covers all of the child nutrition programs and incorporates ideas from numerous marker bills introduced over the past several years. For more details, review our summary and see our official statement. Unfortunately, this bill was never passed by the full House, and the Senate did not take up any CNR legislation of its own.
While a comprehensive CNR was not possible before the end of 117th Congress, legislators did address some child nutrition program priorities through the appropriations process. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which was signed into law on December 29, 2022, authorized a permanent non-congregate summer meals option and a permanent, nationwide Summer EBT program. For more details on this and other provisions, see our summary and official statement.