Committee Democrats Show Bipartisan Support for Summer Meals Program
WASHINGTON – Today, the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education (ECESE) held a hearing entitled, “Examining the Summer Food Service Program.” There is bipartisan agreement that the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is critical to the health and well-being of millions of children.
“Not only do [summer meal] sites distribute nutritious food to low-income children, but they also provide educational, enrichment, or recreational activities that keep children engaged, safe, and active members of the community,” Ranking Member Jared Polis (CO-02), Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee. “In Colorado, the Food Bank for Larimer County provides hundreds of meals for kids every day, meeting them in their neighborhoods and at summer camps to make sure they have the nutritious food they need, even in the summer months.”
In 2016, SFSP served roughly 150 million meals to children in low-income areas. As families struggle to gain a foothold in the middle-class, the need for the program continues to grow. From 2007-2016, the number of meals provided through SFSP grew by 32 percent.
“During the school year, hundreds of thousands of New Jersey children receive much of their daily nutrition by eating breakfast and lunch at school. Those meals stop when the school doors close for the summer, leaving many children without enough food to eat during the summer months. We see food insecurity go up during the summer months, and we know from research that kids gain more weight during the summer,” Ms. Adele LaTourette, Director at the New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition. “Federal summer meals programs are designed to fill that nutrition gap, ensuring that kids receive healthy meals that keep hunger at bay.”
However, support for programs that prevent childhood hunger should not be limited to the summer. At today’s hearing, Committee Democrats implored the Majority to reconsider their support for proposals that severely cut food assistance to families and children struggling with hunger – for example, the House Republican Farm Bill which threatens access to free school meals for 265,000 low-income children. Looking forward, Congress should focus on more meaningful opportunities to improve the SFSP so it can better serve millions of children who do not have consistent access to healthy food.
Democratic Press Office, 202-226-0853
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