Child Nutrition Reauthorization
More than 11 million children are living in food insecure households. While children are at school, school breakfast and lunch programs are effective federal programs that provide healthy, nutritious meals for children facing hunger. But when school ends – either for the day or for the summer – kids are dispersed and harder to reach. Afterschool and summer programs provide valuable support to families but are limited when they are unable to reach children in need.
The St. Louis Area Foodbank helps provide food to children by supporting hundreds of organizations dedicated to fighting hunger across the bi-state region and by targeting childhood hunger through our school market programs.
But there is more work to do. According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap, almost 114,000 children living in our region were food insecure in 2017. That makes for a child food insecurity rate of over 16%.
Fortunately, a number of federal programs exist to help feed our nation’s hungry children including the school breakfast and lunch programs, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the Summer Food Service Program. Every five years Congress has an opportunity through Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) to revisit and reauthorize these programs and to make important changes that expand access to these nutrition resources.
But Congress hasn’t completed the CNR process since 2010.
The time to act for stronger child nutrition programming is now.
The Foodbank works year-round to help feed hungry kids and families in Missouri and Illinois, but our reach is limited without support from the federal government. We will be advocating for an impactful CNR this year, and we hope you’ll join us!
Read below to learn more about CNR and why it is so important to the Foodbank and the kids it is designed to serve.
And check back here for updates throughout the CNR process and ways to stay involved!
Why Child Nutrition Reauthorization is So Important:
· Afterschool meals contribute to the healthy growth and development of low-income children by providing them with nutritious snacks and meals during out-of-school times so they are better able to learn during the school day.
· Across the country community nonprofits like food banks, Boys and Girls Clubs, and YMCAs, provide afterschool and summer programs to vulnerable children, through the Child and Adult Care Food Program and the Summer Food Service Program.
· Of the more than 20 million low-income children participating in free or reduced lunch during the school day, only 1.6 million receive snacks and 1.2 million receive supper through afterschool feeding programs.
· While schools have the ability to operate afterschool and summer feeding sites through one program, the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), community-based organizations must operate separate programs. By streamlining the child nutrition programs, food banks and other community-based providers will be able to feed children year-round through one seamless nutrition program.
· Because the meals programs for summer and afterschool are operated through separate programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), barriers exist to increasing access to healthy meals. Non-school entities are required to operate separate child nutrition programs, including separate applications and different program rules. Streamlining would allow public and private organizations to complete one application so that they can provide children meals after school, during the summer, on weekends, and during school holidays.
· Federally-subsidized meals and snacks attract children to out-of-school programs and ensure that kids are well fed, active, and engaged in enrichment activities while their parents are at work including academic and physical activities, nutrition education and mentoring.