The current federal child nutrition program law, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 expired on September 30, 2015. Up for a vote every five years, the Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization (CNR) constitutes legislation that oversees child nutrition programs including school breakfast and lunch programs, summer meals, afterschool meal programs and WIC. Essential to children’s development and health, child nutrition programs provide children from low-income families access to low-cost or free nutritional meals during the school year and summer months. Although the bill has expired, it will continue in its current form until it is reauthorized.
Several bills have been introduced in Congress that could potentially become part of the final reauthorization, including The Summer Meals Act of 2015 (S. 163, H.R. 1728) sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. The Summer Meals Act of 2015 (S. 163, H.R. 1728) aims to strengthen, protect and expand access to summer nutrition programs. Currently, a summer meal site can participate in the federal Summer Meals Program if more than 50 percent of children in the community are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals as defined by school or census data. This threshold excludes many communities from participating in the program. The Summer Meals Act of 2015 would improve this area eligibility test so communities with 40 percent or more children receiving free or reduced-price meals would qualify. Consequently, millions of low-income children would gain access to summer meal programs if Congress lowers this threshold. Click here to see the impact in New York if Congress lowered the eligibility test from 50 percent to 40 percent. In addition, the bill would allow sites to serve a third meal, provide funding for transportation grants, and streamline the process of providing meals during both the school year and the summer months.
According to the Long Island Index, in 2013, approximately 21 percent of students on Long Island received free school lunch while nearly 73 percent of students in high-poverty schools on Long Island received free lunch. Improving the area eligibility test would increase access to summer meals for children on Long Island living in these pockets of higher poverty.
You can help us make a difference for children in need in Nassau and Suffolk and throughout the country— Take Action Today!
- Call your members of Congress and encourage them to support bills such as the Summer Meals Act of 2015
- Create buzz on social media by sharing photos of your summer meal sites and tagging your Members of Congress to ask for their support of #summermeals #SummerMealsAct and a strong #CNR2015