About Child Nutrition Reauthorization

What is Child Nutrition Reauthorization? 

Every five years, Congress must reauthorize child nutrition programs. During this process, Congress will debate new funding levels, ways to strengthen and improve the programs, and develop new policies to make sure our nation’s children have access to healthy, nutritious food. This year, we are working stregthen and reauthorize child nutrition program while making sure that Congress knows that passing a strong child nutrition bill that strengthens programs and reaches more kids must be a priority.

Feeding America will be primarily focused on strengthening the following programs:

What is the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act of 2015?

The Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act introduced by Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Joe Donnelly (D-IN), would provide communities more options to reach kids during the summer months by allowing for non-congregate and summer EBT models in underserved communities. This marker bill includes two of Feeding America’s priorities for CNR and we hope will be included in the final child nutrition reauthorization package.

What are Feeding America’s Policy Priorities?

We believe that every child should have the food they need to thrive and succeed during school and beyond. With one in five children living in a household facing hunger, a strong investment will need to be made in child nutrition programs to put us on the path towards a hunger-free America.

Unfortunately, millions of children facing hunger do not have access to nutrition assistance when they are out of school and more difficult to reach. Our policy recommendations for Child Nutrition Reauthorization seek to increase access so more children can get the food they need while streamlining programs and increasing flexibility to make it easier for local program operators like food banks to reach kids over the summer, on weekends, and during holidays.

In the summer of 2015, more than 800 food banks and partner agencies added thier names to Feeding America's sign-on letter to Congress, asking that they pass a strong Child Nutrition Reauthorization this year. Read the sign-on letter [PDF] or add your name to the letter

Our policy paper, Nourishing Our Children Beyond the School Day [PDF], outlines our vision for Child Nutrition Reauthorization and our priorities are summarized below.

  • Strengthen States’ Ability to Reach Kids During the Summer
    Less than 18% of low-income children who receive lunch assistance during the school year receive food assistance through a summer feeding site.  We need a two-pronged strategy that makes it easier for communities to establish summer feeding sites in underserved areas and also gives communities the flexibility to reach kids in alternate ways.
  1. Align the area eligibility requirement for summer feeding and educational programs (from 50% of eligibility to 40%), which would allow more learning programs to offer meals in the summer.
  2. Allow communities to adopt alternate program models in areas where children lack access to a program site, ensuring more kids have the nutrition they need. This includes proven strategies such as waiving the requirement that kids consume meals on site, allowing communities to send meals home with children, or giving families a grocery card to supplement their household food budget.
  • Streamline Regulations for Community Based Providers
    Currently, community based organizations like food banks and other nonprofits have to operate the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) after school and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) during the summer, even though they are serving the same kids, often at the same sites. Allowing nonprofits to operate the Summer Food Service Program year round, eliminating duplicative administrative processes, and aligning inconsistent program requirements would allow nonprofits to focus on hungry kids, not pushing paperwork.
  • Allow Flexibility to Better Reach Kids During Weekends
    Many low-income children struggle with hunger over the weekend but communities have limited ability to support them because of rigid program requirements that require kids to consume meals on-site. Without designated space to house a program or a busing system to transport children, the logistics are often too difficult to operate a weekend feeding site. By waiving the arbitrary on-site requirement, communities could innovate more effective ways to serve kids, such as sending needy children home from school with a backpack of nutritious meals or groceries on Friday afternoons.
  • Leverage Schools Beyond the School Day
    Schools provide children with nutritious breakfasts and lunches each school day, but school facilities can be leveraged to do much more. Encouraging schools to make their facilities available to local nonprofits as a shared community resource would allow communities to nourish more children when school is out.
  • Strengthen Access and Quality in School Meal Programs and WIC
    Only half of children receiving lunch assistance also eat school breakfast, and more can be done to improve access to this most important meal of the day. We should continue to support schools as they strive to improve the nutritional quality of meals, providing support, equipment, and training to meet the guidelines set in the last child nutrition bill.

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