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Chairman Roberts’ Statement on Child Nutrition Reauthorization Negotiations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today released the following statement on the status of efforts to complete reauthorization of child nutrition programs.

“Today is a day I hoped would not come,” Roberts said. “I’m very disappointed that the bipartisan, bicameral Child Nutrition Reauthorization negotiations have come to an end for the 114th Congress.

“I’m proud of the commonsense reforms and the bipartisan strides we have made in the majority of the programs. However, we are nearing the end of this legislative calendar, and we have not been able to overcome minority objections and additionally those in the House.

“Though our Committee passed a good, bipartisan bill – something no one said we could do – it wasn’t enough for some. I’m proud to say the Agriculture Committee conducted this reauthorization process in an open and transparent manner that listened to all stakeholders, including schoolchildren. We wrote a well-balanced bill that increased program integrity, flexibility, efficiency, and effectiveness.

“Since that bill was passed by our Committee, we have been working to find an agreement with our colleagues in the House and the minority members of the Senate who halted the bill’s progress.  In the end, we were not able to reach a bipartisan, bicameral compromise.  It is unfortunate that certain parochial interests and the desire for issues rather than solutions were put ahead of the wellbeing of vulnerable and at-risk populations and the need for reform.

“When first considering this bill, I made it a priority to eat lunch with schoolchildren and to listen to school food service directors all across Kansas. They needed this bill.

“This is a lost opportunity to help hungry children and struggling schools. In addition, these programs will be vulnerable to attack without a reduction in the current error rates.

“As chairman of the Committee, I remain committed to continuing to look for ways to increase integrity within the program and to provide flexibility to local school and summer meal program operators.”

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held a hearing in May 2015 and unanimously approved the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016 in January.