Congress Funds Summer Food Program to Help an Estimated 29 Million Children

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WASHINGTON – Lawmakers are targeting child hunger by funding a new program estimated to cost about $23 billion over a decade and help feed about 29 million schoolchildren over the summer. is defined.

The program will begin in the summer of 2024 and will be funded in part by scaling back supplemental food stamp benefits enacted in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These extra funds will end at the end of February, rather than one month after the public health emergency was declared as originally planned.

This new program provides low-income households with a monthly food benefit of $40 per eligible child during the summer to supplement school-provided breakfasts, lunches and snacks for the rest of the year. . This is included in the law to fund the government until September.

“We know that children who get a healthy diet in school go hungry all too often during the summer,” said Debbie Stavenau, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Mich.) said, “This investment is an important step towards ending child hunger.”

Any child who avails of free or reduced-price meals during the school year is eligible for new summer benefits. Similar temporary programs now exist, but are associated with the duration of the Covid-19 public health emergency.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also funds a state-administered summer food service program that helps groups, including camps and nonprofits, feed children. However, the scope of these programs is limited. The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) estimates that the summer meal program feeds her one in seven of the eligible children.

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“The problem is that we don’t have enough summer programs to serve all low-income children, so there was a gap in access to summer meals,” says FRAC’s Children’s Nutrition Work. said Crystal FitzSimons, who leads the

Left-leaning policy and hunger advocates have criticized the decision to early end supplementary food stamp benefits enacted in response to the pandemic. The benefits are always temporary, and the new summer diet program is permanent.

“Policy makers should not have funded this important advance in child nutrition by cutting the SNAP emergency quotas being provided during public health emergencies,” the budget said. and Zoë Neuberger, senior policy analyst at the Center for Policy Priorities, wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

The year-end appropriations bill does not make the changes promoted by President Biden to expand free school lunches, which were opposed by Republicans. Biden advocates universal free school meals for all children. He also pushed schools and school districts in high-poverty areas to expand the reach of programs that would allow all students to receive free breakfast and lunch without the need for parents to apply for benefits. .

Write to Kristina Peterson at

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