The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) recently contacted the Network regarding the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which reauthorized the National School Lunch Act and the Child Nutrition Act. ASTHO members had questions regarding Section 361 of the Act that requires states to agree to exclude certain federal child nutrition programs from state budget restrictions and limitations (such as hiring freezes, work furloughs and travel restrictions). ASTHO requested a list of affected programs, information about the constitutionality of the provision and input about its implementation. ASTHO noted that USDA had issued a policy memorandum that required states to act by March 31, 2011, and asked for assistance as quickly as possible.
The Network researched the topic and provided a memo on the issue within two days, including a list of the USDA programs affected by the Act. In light of the expedited timeline, the Network did not provide a full analysis of constitutionality of the provision, but noted that Congress frequently imposes conditions upon receipt of federal funds, which have repeatedly been upheld in the courts. The Network’s memo cited the example of a 1987 United States Supreme Court case, South Dakota v. Dole, in which the Court held that conditions for state receipt of federal funds under the Medicaid program were constitutional.
To address implementation concerns, the Network consulted an implementation plan for the Act posted on the Food and Nutrition Service Web site. According to the implementation plan, the Food and Nutrition Service intends to issue a final rule related to Section 361 in the summer of 2011, and may explore opportunities for comment during rule making. The Network will continue to assist members of the public health community with questions related to implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.
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