THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Today I am signing into law H.R. 3874, the "William F. Goodling Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act of 1998." This legislation extends the authorization of appropriations for a number of child nutrition programs, including the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children -- more commonly known as WIC -- and the Summer Food Service and Farmers Market Nutrition Programs. In addition, it makes various amendments to these programs to expand children's access to food assistance and improve the programs' operation, management, integrity, and safety. I am pleased that this Act includes many provisions that my Administration proposed.
The Act will help to improve the nutritional and health status of America's most needy children. In particular, H.R. 3874 permits schools and other nonprofit institutions providing after-school care to older, "at-risk" youth to receive meal supplements at no charge. In addition, it continues to allow children in the Even Start Family Literacy Program to be eligible for free school meals.
The Act makes a number of changes to improve the administration, efficiency, and integrity of the child nutrition programs while protecting health and safety standards. It removes barriers to the participation of private, nonprofit organizations in the Summer Food Service Program, especially in rural areas, and streamlines many National School Lunch Program procedures. In addition, it revises program licensing requirements to allow more child care providers to provide Federally funded snacks to needy children. Furthermore, it ensures health and safety inspections of school food service operations where they are currently not required.
The Act is tough on fraud and abuse. It allows the Department of Agriculture to permanently disqualify from the WIC program vendors convicted of trafficking food instruments -- such as WIC vouchers or electronic benefit transfer cards -- or selling firearms, ammunition, explosives, or controlled substances in exchange for them. In addition, it requires WIC applicants to appear in person to apply for benefits and document their income as a condition of receiving benefits.
It is well known that a strong relationship exists between children's nutritional status and their ability to learn, and I remain vitally concerned that all school children have what they need to succeed in school. In joining together to support H.R. 3874, my Administration and the Congress have forged a bipartisan opportunity to improve the nutrition, health, and well-being of our Nation's children. I am pleased to sign this legislation into law.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
THE WHITE HOUSE, October 31, 1998.