During the school year millions of low-income students benefit from free or reduced-price meals at school. However when their summer break arrives, many children often lose access to this benefit making hunger an unnecessary part of their summer months. To close this gap, U.S. Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) introduced the Stop Child Summer Hunger Act.
“The end of the school year doesn’t have to mean an end to access of nutritious meals for low-income students,” said Davis, a senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. “The Summer Food Service Program builds on a proven and common-sense solution to filling the summer meal gap that millions of children face every year. Expanding this program will be good for our kids, good for education and good for the economy.”
The Stop Child Summer Hunger Act would scale up the Summer EBT for Children pilot program currently providing families with eligible children free and reduced-price school meals through an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card. In San Diego County, over 219,000 children qualify for free and reduce-priced school meals.
During the school year, eligible students get breakfasts and lunches at school. While these free and reduced-price meals are available during the summer at other locations, lack of awareness and accessibility prevents all eligible kids from taking advantage of the meals.
With the Summer EBT for Children pilot program, parents receive an electronic benefit transfer card at the end of the school year to use at food stores during the summer months, similar to how the food stamp program works. The benefit would be $150 per child for the summer.
According to an evaluation by the Department of Agriculture, the pilot program has seen positive participation numbers, with some program sites having participation rates above 90 percent, and it has resulted in more healthy food intake, with children eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and dairy foods, while consuming less added sugars from sugar-sweetened beverages.
The cost of providing summer meals to millions of low-income children under Davis’ bill would be fully paid for by closing a tax loophole that encourages corporations to shift jobs and profits overseas.
Davis’ Stop Child Summer Hunger Act is companion legislation to a bill Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced in the Senate.