Despite some last-minute histrionics (of course), today Congress approved the child nutrition bill. The House passed the bill by a vote of 264 to 157; the Senate passed the bill unanimously in August. The legislation will expand the school lunch program, and will set new standards to improve the quality of school meals.

According to The New York Times, about half the $4.5 billion cost of the bill will be paid for by a cut in food stamp benefits starting in several years. The bill, which was championed by First Lady Michelle Obama as a way to combat both hunger and obesity, gives the government (in the form of the Secretary of Agriculture) the authority to establish nutrition standards for foods sold in schools, i.e. items in vending machines, as well as those offered as actual meals.

Michelle Obama called the bill “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.” It was supported by health, education and religious groups, labor unions and the food, beverage, dairy and supermarket industries.

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