This afternoon, Speaker Pelosi signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act sending it to President Obama for his signature into law:
This legislation dramatically increases access to nutritious meals, enhances the quality of meals children eat both in and out of school and in child care settings, implements new school food safety guidelines and establishes nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools. Learn more»
Speaker Pelosi’s remarks:
“Good afternoon. Again, we have some cause for celebration today because this Congress has taken a wonderful step for America’s children, for all of America’s children.
“I am pleased to welcome to the House side of the Capitol Senator Tom Harkin, Chairman of the HELP Committee, who has been working for America’s children in every aspect of their lives for his entire career. Welcome, Chairman Harkin. We are all absolutely deeply indebted to Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln, who has made this issue a very important one as chair of the Agriculture Committee in the United States Senate. They passed their bill unanimously in the Senate, obviously strong bipartisan support for our children.
“And on the House side for years, our Members have been working on this issue. I want to acknowledge Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy for her important work. Her subcommittee has produced great work in this term with the Edward Kennedy Volunteerism Act and now this Healthy Kids Act, which is, again, essential to our children’s—not only their health but their well-being. Thank you, Chairwoman McCarthy for your leadership.
“George Miller has been working on child nutrition for decades—he says, ‘Stop emphasizing the decades’—for decades. When he was a staffer in Sacramento in the state Senate there, this was one of his important issues that he worked on. He has brought that commitment to the Congress over time and now chairman of the Education and Labor Committee. Thank you, George Miller.
“On the Appropriations side, and that’s where Senator Harkin is, he wears two hats here—Chairman of the HELP Committee and then also Chairman of Labor, Health and Human Services on the Senate side on Appropriations. On our side, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, has had this as a priority for her career as well. So it is a very happy day for many of us because we all know the need. Sam Farr on the Appropriations side has made this a mission. Would you say, Sam, a mission? He has educated colleagues on this issue. He has galvanized inside and outside the committee, and we are very grateful to him for his leadership. Congressman Jim McGovern, as you know, is the person in Congress who has pointed out the hunger situation in our country, indeed throughout the world, has been a relentless advocate on behalf of the biblical mission to feed the hungry. So thank you, Congressman McGovern.
“In any event, it is with great excitement that I welcome them all here because their presence represents many others in the Congress who have worked very hard. But it also represents many years of dedication to this issue on the part of the leaders who are here on behalf of America’s children.
“We would not have achieved the success yesterday without the work of so many organizations who are represented here today as well. We thank you very much. I want to pay special tribute to the First Lady, Michelle Obama, for her extraordinary leadership, for championing the issue of children’s nutrition and fighting obesity and the challenge that that places on children in our country.
“This, combined with our health bill, with the other initiatives that relate to children’s health, will make not only our children healthier but our country healthier. This is an issue about their well-being. I always say, every night when I go to sleep, I think of the one in five children in America who lives in poverty, one in five children who, maybe more than that, go to sleep hungry at night. So it is a moral responsibility that we have to our children.
“It is also a competitiveness issue for our country. If our children are going to excel, they must learn. And they cannot learn if they are hungry. So this is not only about their personal well-being, it is about our nation’s competitiveness.
“It is also about our national security. As you all know, the public policy relating to addressing hunger started around the time of World War II when we saw the malnutrition and obesity, to this day, on people who wanted to serve in the military but could not. And so now we will expand the opportunity, if they so wish it, for people to serve.
“So again, it is a moral responsibility. It is a competiveness issue. It is a national security issue. For these and other reasons, those of us who are here in the Congress are honored to be part of helping America’s children. When they ask me, ‘What are the three most important issues facing the Congress?’ I always say the same thing: ‘our children, our children, our children’—their health, the education, the economic security, their families, a world in peace in which they can thrive, safe neighborhoods in which they can grow up. Certainly this all starts with them having enough to eat.
“So thank each and every one of you for the job that you did, outside mobilization on behalf of this legislation while our leaders here did their inside maneuvering to make this bill signing possible today.
“So now what I will do is enroll the bill. And then we will send it down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House for the President’s signature. I don’t know when that will be, but I know it will be soon. So again, with a special salute to the President and Michelle Obama for their extraordinary leadership and to all of you without whose hard work this would not be possible. Thank you all very much.”