U.S. Child Hunger in Summer
The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) was initiated in 1968 by an amendment to the National School Lunch Act to address the problems created by the lack of free school meals in the summer. Millions of children who received meals during the school year were going hungry in summer vacation. SFSP provides free meals when school is out.
SFSP requires a “site” to distribute meals. Meals are often connected to summer camps run by non-profit and governmental organizations. The locations of such programs include; the YMCA, YWCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, Girl’s Inc., church programs, after-school programs and Head Start.
So what’s the problem? Current programming serves only 4 million of the 22 million children who are eligible and receiving school meals.
Two bills were offered in 2015 to expand SFSP.
(1) The Summer Meals Act of 2015 (S 613 & HR 1728), Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Representatives Don Young (R-AK) and Rick Larsen (D-WA). This Act would increase number of meal programs that are a part of summer camps. Also food trucks can be funded through these programs to take meals to children living in nearby without public transportation. https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/613/text
(2) Senator Patty Murray (D WA) proposed a Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer EBT Card. This EBT card could provide between $50.00 and $150.00 per month for each child who qualifies for free school meals. This would be added to the family EBT card. Many children may be isolated in rural and urban situations without transportation to meal sites, need money for food added to their family EBT Card https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/1539/
While both of these bills have been successfully tested and show that feed more eligible and hungry children, congress failed to act on them. Both bills were sent back to the Agriculture Committee without financial support. Instead, the House of Representatives has voted to promote Bill H.R.#5003, misnamed “Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016” that will cut the current food subsidies for school and summer meals.
Please email your federal Senators now and again after the election. Ask him/her to support expansion of the summer meals program and to vote against the Improving Child Nutrition and Education act of 2016. Say, “Our nations eligible children need food in summer and winter. When congress reconvenes please vote against House Bill 5003 misnamed Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016”
Thanks, Becky Richardson, President, Promise the Children