During Hunger Action Month, Bipartisan Lawmakers Push to Expand Summer Meals Program

Sep 20, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In recognition of Hunger Action Month, this week Representatives Don Young (AK-At Large) and Rick Larsen (WA-02) are highlighting bipartisan legislation they have introduced to fight childhood hunger and expand access to summer meal programs throughout the country.

“Hunger Action Month is a very real reminder that we have a long way to go in addressing food security and hunger in the United States,” said Congressman Don Young. “This month we’re highlighting the important work of the Summer Meals Act, legislation we’ve proposed to maximize the impact of summer meal programs and eliminate red tape for local non-profit organizations that run them across the country. As a former teacher – who personally saw the plight of childhood hunger in my classroom – I did everything in my power to ensure my students had a nutritious meal in front of them each day. As a Congressman, my passion and advocacy for these issues is even stronger. This legislation is only one small step in expanding child nutrition programs, but will make an important difference for our nation’s youth who don’t have proper access to meals throughout the summer.”

“Hunger does not abide by the school calendar, and Hunger Action Month recognizes that acting to address hunger, especially childhood hunger, is needed year-round,” said Congressman Rick Larsen. “The Summer Meals Act would be a major step forward in the fight to combat hunger by making sure kids get regular, healthy meals regardless of the season.” 

“Summer meals programs are effective partnerships between USDA, state agencies, local school districts, and private service providers,” said Christina Wong, Public Policy Manger at Northwest Harvest. “The Summer Meals Act offers smart, bipartisan, and common-sense solutions that will break down barriers for service providers, including many of our over 360 food pantry partners, so that they can do the good work of getting more meals to every child in need.”

Nearly one in five people in Washington state and one in seven people in Alaska suffer from food insecurity. Across the nation, approximately 13 million American children live in food-insecure households. A further 6.5 million children in the U.S. live in areas where there is limited access to supermarkets, which reduces their ability to maintain a varied and nutritious diet.  As a result, many families struggle with hunger at some point during the year.

The Summer Meals Act of 2017 strengthens access to summer nutritional programs that reduce child hunger over the summer months, when low-income children lose access to free and reduced-price school meals. The bill would expand eligibility so that more students are able to participate in summer meals programs, better empower local organizations to help feed children year-round, and support transportation needs in rural areas where accessing summer meal programs is often more difficult.

The full bill text of The Summer Meals Act of 2017 can be found HERE.

The Summer Meals Act currently has 47 cosponsors: Reps. Don Young (AK-At Large), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Steve Cohen (TN-09), David Loebsack (IA-02), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Katherine Clark (MA-05), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Grace Meng (NY-06), Betty McCollum (MN-04), Peter Welch (VT-At Large), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01), Nydia Velazquez (NY-07), Timothy Walz (MN-01), Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Marc Veasey (TX-33), Niki Tsongas (MA-03), Sanford Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Lucille Allard-Roybal (CA-40), James Langevin (RI-02), Jose Serrano (NY-15), James McGovern (MA-02), Tim Ryan (OH-13), Mark Takano (CA-41), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Louise Slaughter (NY-25), Bobby Rush (IL-01), Terri Sewell (AL-07), Bill Pascrell (NJ-09), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL-23), Sander Levin (MI-09), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Mike Quigley (IL-05), Joseph Kennedy III (MA-04), Janice Schakowsky (IL-09), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08), Matt Cartwright (PA-17), Brenden Boyle (PA-13), John Katko (NY-24), John Sarbanes (MD-03), and Cedric Richmond (LA-02).

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