Just catching up on the recent “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010” that passed last Thursday. While it worries me that it’s set to be paid through cuts to SNAP (food stamps), this still looks like a significant step forward in child health to me.

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA)’s two-sentence summary of the counterintuitive hunger-obesity relationship is maybe the best I’ve ever read:

“Hunger and obesity are two sides of the same coin. Highly processed, empty-calorie foods are less expensive than fresh nutritious foods.”

This makes me laugh:

But Representative Paul Broun, Republican of Georgia and a physician, said: “This bill is not about child nutrition. It’s not about healthy kids. It’s about an expansion of the federal government, more and more control from Washington, borrowing more money and putting our children in greater debt. The federal government has no business setting nutritional standards and telling families what they should and should not eat.”

Surely Rep. Broun is aware of the massive farm subsidies from the federal government that have largely dictated for decades exactly what goes in school lunches (read: CORN)? Also, would he propose eliminating the FDA? Oh wait, yes, I’m guessing he probably would.

It would also allow more than 100,000 children on Medicaid to qualify automatically for free school meals.

Very happy to see this provision survived. Too many kids and families are missing out on the benefits they are eligible for because of burdensome enrollment and renewal paperwork. I can connect my linkedin profile to my wordpress blog to my twitter feed to my facebook page to my flickr photostream to my blogger account and have them all play nice and share relevant data, and those are all separate private companies! There’s no good reason why our government data systems can’t be similarly integrated. Just like with electronic medical records, it’s expensive to implement in the short-term but reduces paperwork-processing administration costs in the long-run.

Back in July, I first read about this Senate bill and a similar House bill and was excited about their proposal of “community eligibility” for school lunches in high-poverty areas. I can’t tell from the NYTimes article whether that provision survived too. Anybody know? I may need to do some more digging…