Bipartisan Bill to Expand Access to Summer Meal Programs Introduced in House
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Representatives Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Don Young (R-AK) have once again introduced bipartisan legislation in the House to fight childhood hunger and expand access to summer meal programs for kids across the country.
Young and Larsen’s legislation, the Summer Meals Act of 2015, is designed to provide children with year-round access to nutritious meals by expanding the eligibility requirements for federal summer meal programs, reducing red tape for local organizations, and making meals and snacks more readily available during weekends and after school hours. The bill would also support transportation needs in rural areas where access to summer meal programs is often made more difficult.
“Making sure kids get regular, nutritious meals year-round is critical to their health and their ability to learn,” said Congressman Rick Larsen. “But hunger is a persistent problem: nearly one in six people in my district suffer from food insecurity. That is why I am introducing the Summer Meals Act, to make sure communities that are home to a significant number of children in low-income families can participate in federal summer meal programs. And the bill would expand kids’ access to meals and snacks during times they are most vulnerable to hunger – summer, weekends and after school hours. I am pleased to work with Rep. Young and our colleagues in the Senate in a bipartisan way to make sure our kids get enough to eat every day.”
“This bipartisan effort is important to kids throughout Alaska and the Nation who need better access to meals during the summer months,” said Congressman Don Young. “As a former teacher, I know that these programs significantly help kids maintain their academic success throughout the summer and allow them to begin the school year healthy and ready to learn. This bill works to eliminate some of bureaucracy within the program and increase the impact of summer meal programs in rural areas of the country.”
A companion bill to the Summer Meals Act of 2015 was introduced on February 27, 2015 by Senators Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski(R-AK). Both bills have received significant support from afterschool programs and food advocacy organizations across the nation:
“This legislation is critical to feed more kids. With less than 16 percent of the 21 million kids who receive free or reduced lunches during the school year currently accessing summer meals, there is a lot of room to improve how we keep kids from going hungry during the summer. This legislation will reduce barriers for community partners to establish summer meals sites while helping kids get to those sites. Kids will get more nutritious food, better connect with their communities, and make a summer full of good memories instead of worrying about where their next meal will come from,” said Gina Clark, director of public policy for Food Lifeline, a Seattle-based organization that provides 88,000 meals a day to people struggling with hunger throughout Western Washington state.
"The Summer Meals Act is a critical piece of bipartisan legislation to help fight childhood hunger throughout Alaska, and the United States. This bill reduces government red tape that prevent youth programs and communities from feeding hungry kids during the summer months. By lowering the community poverty level threshold from 50% to 40% our partners will be able to feed more hungry kids during the summer. Congressman Young listened to Alaskans about the need to improve access to child nutrition programs during the summer months, and has taken action on those concerns. The Summer Meals Act will reduce administrative burden, and streamline rules and regulations, which will make it easier for more communities to host meal programs. This means more hungry kids in Alaska will have access to the nutrition they need to be active and learning during the summer months,” said Thomas Azzarella, Director of the Alaska Afterschool Network
A fact sheet about the bill is available here.