Today, lawmakers on Capitol Hill introduced bipartisan provisions to improve and expand federal nutrition programs that help fight child hunger in the summer. Feeding America commends Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and John Boozman, R-Ark., for negotiating these provisions, which will create a nationwide Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) grocery card program and significantly increase access to summer meals, particularly for children in rural communities. These critical anti-hunger provisions have been added to the fiscal year 2023 omnibus spending bill, which also includes important annual funding for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and other anti-hunger programs.
When schools close their doors for the summer, millions of children lose access to their only reliable source of nutritious meals. For decades, child nutrition programs have played a critical role in safeguarding our nation’s children against hunger—but the programs are only as effective as their ability to reach children in need. In 2019, approximately 80% of children who were eligible for summer meals did not access them. While these critical investments come with the disappointing early sunsetting of temporary COVID pandemic relief programs, they represent a historic step forward in closing the summer hunger gap that shouldn’t be passed up.
“Every child in the U.S. should have access to the food they need to thrive,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America. “In 2021, more than 9 million children in the U.S.—1 in 8—faced hunger. So many issues today have the power to divide, but solving child hunger is one way we can all come together. It serves everyone’s interests to get this right. The summer nutrition provisions in the omnibus spending bill will be a game changer for the millions of eligible kids who have historically been left behind under the Summer Food Service Program. A nationwide Summer EBT program centers the dignity and agency of families facing hunger by allowing them to choose the nutritious foods that best meet their needs. And allowing summer meal programs to meet kids where they are is a step toward more equitable access, especially for kids living in rural communities. We call on Congress to strengthen summer nutrition programs for our nation’s children by passing the omnibus.”
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About Feeding America
Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of more than 200 food banks, 21 statewide food bank associations, and over 60,000 partner agencies, food pantries and meal programs, we helped provide 5.3 billion meals to tens of millions of people in need last year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; brings attention to the social and systemic barriers that contribute to food insecurity in our nation; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.