Washington–Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) along with several of colleagues to push Congressional the leadership of Congress to prolong child nutrition waivers in advance of their expiration date and adopt the most comprehensive list of child nutrition goals in any legislative vehicle that is coming up. Since summer vacation is currently underway in a number of states, it is essential to ensure that Congress extends and enhances the programs for families with low incomes as they face a significant benefit cliff when waivers expire on June 30 2022. In the letter, senators ask for the extension of children’s nutrition benefits, set up an all-over summer EBT program and to extend the community eligibility (CEP) as which is a flexible option for meal service for school districts with low income regions. These measures are crucial to combating the problem of food insecurity and child hunger.
“The pandemic has brought to light the importance of nutrition programs for children and the important role they play in ensuring that hunger is not a problem to millions of kids across the nation. When schools are closing for summer across the nation families are likely to lose access to school meals, and be confronted with the possibility of a rise in levels of food insecurity and weight gain as well as difficulties in learning ,” Senators wrote. “As Congress develops legislation to help families affected by rising food costs and rising food prices, we need to alleviate some of the issues and ensure that programmes for nutrition of children will be able to fully satisfy the nutritional needs of children when they are in school, in afterschool, summer programs, and in childcare.”
“More is needed to be done to improve children’s health and education as millions of families battle the aftermath of COVID-19. Expanding the child nutrition waiver as well as expanding community eligibility and establishing a national Summer EBT program are surefire methods for our children to access the food they require to be successful and flourish in school as well as beyond ,”
“In the course of a typical season, Boys & Girls Clubs across the nation serve 95 million meals and snacks for children free of charge. Clubs are also constantly evolving to meet the needs of communities in crises, including when the disease is at its peak. epidemic, offering over 24 million meals to more than half a million families in the United States,”
“Said Jim Clark, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
“Extending the waiver for child nutrition is crucial to help meet the basic needs of children as well as families and communities that are still recovering from the economic and social effects that have impacted them over the last two years. We are urging
Congress to make nutrition for children and hunger a top priority through expanding the waiver authority and investing in programs to keep children safe, healthy, and engaged.”
“Summer is in full swing and YMCAs across the nation are working hard to provide nutritious meals to every child who is in need. This summer, only one of 7 children eligible receive these meals. Congress is unable to extend the waivers for child nutrition to the end of June hinders our ability to offer food when children need it need them the most ,” > Suzanne McCormick, President and CEO of YMCA of the USA. “We have to utilize all the tools we have available to provide food for kids this summer, and the recommendations made in the Senate by senator Gillibrand and her co-workers can’t be implemented in time. We’re hoping Congress is working to pass these laws to make sure that each child enjoys an unending summer without hungry .”
Alongside Feinstein and Gillibrand The letter was also signed by senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass. ), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md. ), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Angus King (I-Maine), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ben Cardin (D-Md. ), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass. ), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jeffrey Merkley (D-Ore.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).
This letter has been endorsed by Food Research & Action Center, YMCA of the USA, Afterschool Alliance, Boys & Girls Club of America, Feeding America, School Nutrition Association, American Heart Association, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, First Focus Campaign for Children, MomsRising, Center for Science in the Public Interest, National Parent Teacher Association, National Farm to School Network, School Superintendents Association, Save the Children, National Education Association, National Center for Health Research, Healthy Food America, Food Corps, Community Food Advocates, National CACFP Association, Society of Behavioral Medicine, Center for Food Equity & Economic Development, California Association of Food Banks, Healthy Schools Campaign Voices for Georgia’s Children as well as Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network.
The full content of the letters is accessible in the following link and also below:
Dear Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi and Leader McConnell as well as Leader McCarthy,
The outbreak has highlighted the importance of children’s nutrition programs and their role in preventing hunger to millions of kids across the nation. While schools shut down across the nation families were faced with the same problems they encounter each summer, when they are denied access to school meals that are free such as increased food insecurity, weight gain and disruptions to learning.
When the Senate is drafting legislation to assist families impacted by cost of food and relief for the pandemic, we suggest that they include these three points in any of the upcoming packages to ensure that child nutrition programs are able to aid recovery from the effects on the population. Children in schools must get the nutritional support they require to develop and flourish while in school and throughout the summer. These provisions also establish the foundation for a stronger Child Nutrition Reauthorization that will take further steps to ensure that programs for nutrition of children are able to fulfill the nutritional needs of children when they are in school, in afterschool and summer programs, and also in the childcare.
- Expand the Extension of the Nutrition Waivers. The waiver authority we granted to for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 has allowed schools nutrition programs and local government agencies as well as non-profit organizations, to continue feeding children in spite of the many issues the pandemic has brought by offering the required program flexibility. Additionally the waivers have served as an essential support for schools’ nutrition programs. According to an USDA study of nutrition programs in schools programs in the School Year 2021-22 school year 90 percent of them used this Seamless Summer Option, 92 percent of respondents reported challenges with their supply chains and almost four out of four school nutrition departments experienced staffing difficulties 51 percent of summer and afterschool providers faced staffing issues. 
Expand Community Eligibility.
Community eligibility is an important and sustainable option for schools in their transition from pandemic-related operations. In the schools that had were able to adopt before the outbreak it changed their lunch and breakfast programs which allowed schools to provide meals for all students at no cost. This reduces the amount of the paperwork burden on families and schools and helps eliminate unpaid school meal costs. It also assures that every student has access to healthy food at school that they need to succeed and excel. According to the current rules there are too many high-need schools aren’t qualified. If schools are eligible, the current reimbursement structure could prevent schools from implementing community eligibility. Congress should reduce the threshold for eligibility to allow more schools to be community eligible, and also increase the amount of budget (raising that multiplier by 1.6 up to 2.5) to ensure that more schools can be able to take advantage of community eligibility. In addition, as increasing numbers of states seek to implement schools with statewide programs offering meals for all students free of cost, a statewide community eligibility option could help these efforts.
Create a Nationwide Summer EBT Program.
This strategy is a great option to enhance with the Summer Nutrition Programs. As schools close families are deprived of nutritious, free or reduced-cost lunches at school for their kids. This leads to increased family food insecurity in parents with young children. The current summer nutrition programs are designed to substitute meals at school and are often used to help with summer programs that are desperately needed however the accessibility of these meals is limited. Prior to the pandemic only one child out of seven that received free or reduced-price school lunches during the school year was offered meals during summer. The nationwide Summer EBT program would provide families with an EBT card that allows them to buy meals when school is closed. The evaluations for Summer EBT demonstrations have found that they can reduce food insecurity and increase the nutrition of children.
We are looking forward to working with you in incorporating these provisions into the next legislative vehicles that are being designed by Congress.