Dear Member of Congress:
Free school meals for all children, which have been in place for the past two years because of the pandemic, are ending next month. At the same time, gas, rent, and grocery costs are soaring. This combination of events is leading to a hunger crisis that will only worsen next month, and is already propelling many families to visit food pantries for the first time.
Luckily, you have the opportunity to dramatically reduce the number of hungry children in the U.S. Please take advantage of this opportunity and pass the “Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act” now.
Specifically, we ask that you include the following provisions in the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act:
- Expand access to school meals by expanding the Community Eligibility Provision so more school districts can provide free meals and ensuring children on Medicaid are automatically certified for free school meals.
- Address unpaid school meal fees by providing protections for children and families with these fees and requiring school districts to take steps to determine if families who are accruing school lunch debt are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
- Preserve the future of school meal programs by increasing the reimbursement rate for lunch by 10 cents and providing commodity support to the School Breakfast Program.
- Modernize the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) by expanding WIC eligibility to age six, improving access to telehealth to reduce the physical presence requirement, and expanding the Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program to ensure more mothers have access to breastfeeding support.
- Address food insecurity during the summer by expanding access to summer meals and creating a nationwide Summer EBT program, which would help close the summer meal gap, and give the USDA waiver authority during federally declared emergencies.
- Improve school meal capacity and sustainability by providing grants to purchase kitchen equipment, supporting farm to school programs, and incentivizing scratch cooking.
- Allow for one additional reimbursable meal for children in a full day of care, giving children a full day’s worth of meals they need to grow.
- Create a pilot program to allow Tribal governments to express their inherent sovereignty in food and agriculture by administering the child nutrition programs.
Many moms know first hand how difficult it is for children to learn when they are hungry. This is your opportunity to join us by putting an end to childhood hunger! Please pass the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act now.