With his wife by his side, President Obama on Monday signed the child nutrition bill, strongly pushed by the first lady, who has made nutrition part of her campaign to help the young get healthy.
Speaking at Harriet Tubman Elementary School, President Obama praised the bill as a rare example of bipartisan political cooperation as both parties backed the measure designed to provide better school meals to more students and to regulate those meals to make them more healthful.
“This act is about doing what is right for children,” the president said in televised remarks.
First Lady Michelle Obama praised her husband for pushing the bill through Congress. “I want to thank him for working very hard,” she said as the president interrupted to jokingly note that if he hadn’t, he “would have been sleeping on the couch.”
“I won’t go into that,” the first lady replied.
Technically called the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the bill reauthorizes the federal nutrition program, a $4.5-billion measure that expands free school meals for the needy. For the first time, it sets nutritional standards for all food, whether in cafeterias or in school vending machines, and is designed to help fight obesity among children, which has led to an increase in disease, such as diabetes.
The bill also increases the spending per meal by about 6 cents, President Obama noted. He said the money for funding the increase came from cuts in the food-stamp program but that he was committed to working with Congress to find a way to restore those funds.
The bill passed the Senate in August and was approved by the House earlier this month.
Michelle Obama has made child nutrition and its related issues, good food and better health through exercise, her issues.
“We can agree that in the wealthiest nation on earth, all children should have the basic nutrition they need to learn and grow,” she said. “Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children. Nothing.”