An update from Good Shepherd Food Bank and Feeding America on Child Nutrition Reauthorization:
Many of the programs that feed our nation’s children, including the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast, and the Summer Food Service Program, need to be reauthorized every five years in a process called Child Nutrition Reauthorization. The 2010 CNR bill, the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act, expires on September 30. Congress is currently working on a new bill.
ACTION NEEDED - TAKE THESE STEPS
· Sign on to the letter in support of the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act (S.1966) and push it out to your local agencies and networks asking them to sign on. Read about the Hunger Free Summer bill here.
· Ask your Senators to co-sponsor the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act (S.1966) and the Summer Meals Act (S.613). Read about the Summer Meals Act here.
· Feeding America will be holding a national call in day on September 15th, so stay tuned for more details and please be sure to share the call in information with your local networks.
While it’s still unclear whether Congress will actually be able to pass a new Child Nutrition bill this month, the next two weeks are our greatest chance for influencing the process. With Congress back in DC, work on Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) is moving forward. The Senate Agriculture Committee is scheduled to mark up its legislation on September 17th, and we expect that bill to set the framework for the final package. Feeding America has three primary priorities, all of which would make significant steps toward closing the summer meal gap and all of which are included in the above legislation: streamlining CACFP and SFSP, creating a summer EBT program, and implementing a non-congregate meal option.
The good news is that there is strong, bi-partisan support for making an investment in summer meals. With a Republican House and Senate, tight budget caps and a focus on deficit reduction, we also know that investment will not be as significant as any of us would wish. But we have a real opportunity to help ensure CNR legislation that strengthens the site-based model by streamlining summer and after-school and also provides alternative ways to reach kids who are unable to access a site through summer EBT and non-congregate meal options.
There are two “marker bills” that include these priorities. A few weeks ago, 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) introduced the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act of 2015 (S.1966), a marker bill that includes a non-congregate option and a summer EBT program. Streamlining CACFP and SFSP was already included as the centerpiece of the Summer Meals Act (S.613) introduced by Senators Gillibrand (D-NY) and Murkowski (R-AK), (which Feeding America also strongly supports), and so it wasn’t included in the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act. We need your help building support for each of them.
There are wrinkles, of course. Focus in the Senate is on the Iran deal, coming up with a Continuing Resolution or budget deal to fund the government, and the Pope’s visit. There’s little attention left over for other things. Also, while they are planning a mark-up for the 17th, the Congressional Budget Office has yet to release their scoring for the bill, so that could delay the process. We’re also hearing quite a bit from folks across the country who would like to roll back the nutrition standards from the 2010 bill; rehashing the old bill is taking attention away from priorities and program improvements this time around.
Nonetheless, the time to act is now. Please join in signing onto the letter of support for the Hunger Free Summer for Kids Act and stay tuned for details about the national call-in day tomorrow.