The House of Representatives passed on Thursday and sent to President Barack Obama a bill that boosts funding for the school lunch program by $4.5 billion through 2020 and bans “junk” food from school buildings, Reuters reports. Backers said it would be the first real increase in reimbursement rates for schools in 30 years and a step toward healthier meals. Obama was expected to sign the bill, which the Senate passed in August. The House passed the bill 264-157 on a party-line vote. Republicans said it cost too much and that Democrats want to renege on cuts in the food-stamp program for the poor that largely pay for the bill.

“I hope this doesn’t foreshadow what is in store in the next Congress,” said Democrat George Miller, chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. Republicans will be the majority in the session that opens in January. When he took office, Obama suggested an increase of $1 billion a year as part of a campaign to end childhood hunger by 2015. Congress postponed work for a year because of funding shortages. In the end, it scaled back a recession-fighting increase in food stamp benefits to pay for the bill…

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staff and wire services reports