September 09, 2015

Child Nutrition Reauthorization: What You Won't See On the Nightly News

CNR

As Congress begins its post summer work, the debate and consideration of the reauthorization of our nation’s child nutrition programs has also begun. Not surprisingly, their process seems both confusing and a bit secretive.

Amid the gridlock and the grandstanding, we thought we'd try to provide a bit of clarity and insight. 

Of course, MAZON continues to advocate for a strong child nutrition bill that builds on the progress made in the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, and also makes needed program improvements and expands access to vital programs and services.
 
What you won’t hear on the nightly news is information on 3 marker bills (outlined below) that will dramatically improve how we help low-income children get the nutrition they need, particularly during the summer months.

This action alert is all about staying alert! Watch, listen, let us know what you’re hearing… and what you are not hearing. We’ll alert you when the time is right for action.

 

SUMMER MEALS ACT (S. 613 / H.R. 1728) 
introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Representatives Don Young (R-AK) and Rick Larsen (D-WA) would significantly expand the reach of the Summer Nutrition Programs and simplify program administration for sponsoring organizations.  The bill proposes improvements, including:

  • Allowing community-based organizations to participate if 40% of the children in the area are eligible for free or reduced-price meals (reduced from the current eligibility threshold of 50%)
  • Eliminating cumbersome paperwork and administrative requirements that inhibit local government agencies and private nonprofit organizations from feeding children year-round
  • Providing transportation grants to fund innovative approaches and mobile meal trucks to address barriers to participation, particularly in rural areas
  • Allowing all sites to serve a third meal, providing a helpful benefit for sites that provide child care for working parents  

STOP CHILD SUMMER HUNGER ACT of 2015 (S. 1539 / H.R. 2715) 
introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Susan Davis (D-CA) would provide low-income families with children with an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card for summer food purchases. The bill proposes to:

  • Provide benefits for food purchases to families with one or more children who qualify for free and reduced price school meals but likely go without during the summer months
  • Deliver benefits of $150 per summer for each eligible child, with the amount adjusted annually based on inflation 

TRIBAL NUTRITION IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2015 (S. 1937)
introduced by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) would adapt existing child nutrition programs to meet the needs of Native American communities and address some of the unique barriers that prevent tribal governments from making the most effective use of these programs.  Provisions in this bill would:

  • Ensure that all schools in high-poverty reservation communities can provide meals at no charge to all of their students, increasing program participation rates and reducing paperwork for schools and families
  • Empower federally recognized Indian tribes to administer the National School Lunch Program and the Child and Adult Care Food Program
  • Authorize tribal governments to administer the Summer Food Service Program and the School Breakfast Program
  • Adjust administrative funding levels to support tribal governments that assume responsibility for administering these child nutrition programs