Rep. Susan Davis and Sen. Patty Murray Introduce Legislation to End Summer Hunger
U.S. Representative Susan Davis (D-CA-53), a senior member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, and U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate health committee, introduced legislation to tackle the silent crisis of child hunger impacting families across the country during the summer months. During the academic year, millions of kids from low-income families are able to get free or reduced-priced meals at school, so they can get the nutrition they need to learn in class. But when school lets out for the summer, many of those same kids lose access to regular meals—and many go without the nutrition they need to live healthy lives. To address this challenge, Representative Davis and Senator Murray introduced the Stop Child Summer Hunger Act, a bill that would provide families who have children eligible for free and reduced-price school meals with an electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card. This EBT card would provide $150, equal to about $60 per month, for each child eligible for free or reduced-price school meals, so the family can purchase groceries to replace the meals that the children would otherwise receive at school. Rep. Davis reintroduced the legislation in the House and Sen. Murray reintroduced the bill in the Senate.
“No child should go hungry and no parent should have to worry about being able to feed their child,” Rep. Davis. “We know that well-fed children engage and learn better in the classroom. Our bills build on a proven and simple solution to filling the meal gap that millions of children face every summer. Expanding this program will be good for our kids, good for education, and good for the economy. I want to thank Senator Murray for her leadership on the issue of ending summer hunger.”
In San Diego County, over 90,000 students who benefit from nutritious, affordable school meals during the academic year miss out on similar meals during the summer.
“The summer is a time of year that many students look forward to, but for too many children and families who rely on school provided meals it can be an uncertain and stressful time as well. In my home state of Washington, 1 in 6 kids live in a household that struggles to put food on the table. We need to be doing more for these kids and their families,” Senator Murray said. “Making sure children have year-round access to healthy, nutritious meals is an essential component of setting them up for success – at home, in school, and in life – and the Stop Child Summer Hunger Act is a major step toward ensuring our nation’s families have the support they need so that none of our kids are left wondering where their next meal will come from. I’m proud to work with Representative Davis on this important and pressing issue. We simply cannot allow any children to miss out on vital nutrition and continue to fall through the cracks.”
The Stop Child Summer Hunger Act expands on the successful Summer EBT for Children demonstration project that has been piloted in 14 sites and 10 states and Indian Tribal Organizations. This pilot had positive results, decreasing hunger among children by 33 percent.
An existing federal program, the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) attempts to fill the summer meals gap by providing funding to nonprofit, government, and religious entities to serve food in congregate settings to low-income children during summer breaks. However, while some areas of the country see great success with the SFSP, many barriers to participation in the program remain, including unfamiliarity with the program or sites, lack of transportation, and limited food distribution hours.
According to the Food Research and Action Center, in July 2017 three million children ate lunch on an average weekday at a summer meal site—only a fraction of the 20 million low-income children who participate in school lunch each day during the school year. Much of the low participation is due to limited public funding available to support summer programs for low-income children to attend, and as a result, children around the country are more likely to be hungry during the summer. The Stop Child Summer Hunger Act, in conjunction with the SFSP, would ensure that children across the country don’t go hungry when school is out.