Bill will Help Ensure Kids have Access to Nutritious Meals in Summer Months
Washington, DC - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet has introduced the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act with Senator John Boozman (R-AR). This bill makes child nutrition programs more efficient and flexible to help them reach more children in need, particularly children in rural communities, during the summer months when school meals are not available.
"In my experience as a school superintendent and as a father, I've seen firsthand that access to nutritious meals plays a vital role in a kid's academic performance, as well as their health and happiness," Bennet said. "For some students the majority of their meals come from free and reduced lunch programs at school. They should have continued access to these essential services in the summer months. This bill will give states the flexibility to make sure that kids aren't going hungry."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture currently operates its Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) to offer children from low-income families free lunch and snacks during the summer. Unfortunately, in Colorado only nine percent of children eligible for free or reduced school lunch receive summer meals. This includes the 31 percent of low-income kids who live outside of areas eligible for an open summer meals site.
This legislation would provide states with two additional options for addressing child hunger during the summer months including:
- Authorizing summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) and providing eligible families up to $30 per summer month per child to purchase eligible food items. In United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) pilot programs, Summer EBT reduced the most severe forms of food insecurity for children by 33 percent.
- Allowing states the flexibility to choose what makes the most sense in their communities by giving states the option to provide summer meals without a centralized feeding site when a certain condition exists, such as in a rural area, in an area that is not eligible to operate an open summer meals site, during a time of extreme weather, or when there are public safety concerns.
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