Feeding America and its network of more than 200 food banks across the country applaud today's approval of a child nutrition reauthorization bill by the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry as a step forward in achieving an end to childhood hunger by 2015. The Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill reported by the Committee has the potential to increase access to nutritious food for children during the school day, afterschool, in the summer, over weekends and extended school holidays.
Feeding America thanks the members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry on both sides of the aisle who voted to advance this critical piece of legislation. Feeding America also commends the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee -- Chairman Blanche Lincoln, (D-Ark.) and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss, (R-Ga.) –for their stated commitment to finding more ways to fund other critically important improvements to this legislation that will help to end child hunger in this nation.
"This represents a very important and positive step forward in the fight to end child hunger," said Vicki Escarra, president and CEO, Feeding America. "We are pleased that the legislation includes several of the priorities needed to increase access to nutritious food for low-income children. We hope that in the coming weeks more funding will be found to meet President Obama's budget request for this legislation and the goal of ensuring that all our nation's children have access to safe and nutritious foods. We will continue to work with members of the Senate in the coming weeks to promote support for additional funds in order to realize the full potential of the Child Nutrition Law."
The child nutrition reauthorization approved by the Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee responds to an increasingly prevalent crisis. According to the latest United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, nearly 1 in 4 children across the country are at risk of hunger. Feeding America's recent study, Hunger in America 2010, reports that its network of food banks and the agencies they serve provide emergency food assistance to 37 million people each year, including 14 million children. The 2010 study also reveals that many of the people turning to the network for help are households with children.
In the summer of 2009, the United States Department of Agriculture's Summer Food Service Program only reached 2.2. million children. This compared to 19 million low-income children receiving free or reduced price school lunches during the school year.
"Too many hungry children are not being reached by our current child nutrition programs. It is an outrage that nearly one in four children in this nation live on the brink of hunger," said Escarra."While school feeding programs play an essential role in providing nutritious meals during the school day, too many low-income children find themselves without access to nourishing food when school is out. It is vitally important that we increase access to nutritious meals during these out of school times, such as after-school, during the summer and over weekends and extended school holidays.
"We can only achieve a prosperous future for all Americans if we ensure, right now, that all children have access to enough nutritious food for active, healthy lives. Our nation and our children cannot afford to wait any longer to make this happen.
"Feeding America urges the full Senate to approve a comprehensive and fully funded Child Nutrition reauthorization bill, and requests the House to take up this legislation quickly so that our children and families don't have to wait another year to have access to the nutritious foods needed to lead healthy and productive lives."
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