Nutrition Leaders Introduce Comprehensive Proposal to Address and Prevent Child Hunger

WASHINGTON – Today, Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) and Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee Chair Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) introduced a comprehensive, evidence-driven reauthorization of federal child nutrition programs that meets the needs of children and families.

The Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act (H.R. 8450) builds on Congressional Democrats’ work to expand school and summer meal programs, increase access to federal nutrition programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and prevent child hunger.

“One of the key lessons reaffirmed by our response to the COVID-19 pandemic is that, when we invest in child nutrition programs, we help reduce child hunger. In fact, from January 2021 through April 2021, food shortage rates among households with children fell by more than 40 percent—thanks to the investments in several COVID-19 relief packages. Even still, we know we have more work ahead to achieve our ultimate goal—eliminating child hunger in America. The Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act takes long overdue steps to deliver on that goal by modernizing proven child nutrition programs and providing more children and families with access to nutrition assistance. This is a critical opportunity to help fulfill our basic responsibility to keep children from going hungry,” said Chairman Scott. 

“It’s hard for students to learn when they are hungry,” said Chair Bonamici. “By updating the child nutrition laws, Congress can get children the healthy meals they need to learn and grow. At a time when too many families are still struggling to put food on the table, the Healthy Kids, Healthy Meals Act will increase access to school meals, expand eligibility for nutrition programs, and make sure children are fed during summer breaks. I’m glad to partner with Chairman Scott on this important effort to address child hunger, and will do all I can to get this over the finish line for children and their families.”

Even before the pandemic, more than 2.7 million households with children did not have reliable access to nutritious food. Moreover, the pandemic worsened pre-existing inequities in food insecurity. Both Black and Hispanic households with children reported food insecurity at rates roughly twice that of white households with children throughout the pandemic.

The Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act will help address both pre-existing inequities as well as food insecurity spurred by the pandemic. Specifically, the legislation will:

  • Expand access to school meals,
  • Preserve the future of school meal programs,
  • Modernize the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC),
  • Address food insecurity during the summer,
  • Improve school meal capacity and sustainability, and 
  • Strengthen the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).

Read the fact sheet for the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act here.

Read the section by section for the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act here.

Read the bill text for the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act here


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