It was in this space just last week that the editorial board issued a recommendation to Congress.
Because of the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic, potentially 13 million children may be experiencing food insecurity. Schools, farmers markets and other nonprofits step up during the summer months to fill the gaps, but more flexibility should be added to those programs in order to reach every hungry child, this board said.
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators apparently agrees with that idea.
The Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act, introduced in Congress earlier this week, aims to add flexibility to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program, which offers free lunches and snacks to children in the summer. Its supporters include Republican Sens. Roy Blunt, of Missouri, and Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall, both of Kansas.
Lawmakers said the legislation uses lessons learned during the pandemic — for example, the importance of offering noncentralized locations for food distribution to serve children in rural areas or children who are learning remotely — in order to update federal laws governing child nutrition programs.
“The federal government’s rigid, one-size-fits-all approach to child hunger simply isn’t doing enough to solve the problem,” Blunt said in a statement. “Too many Missouri kids are going hungry during the summer months because they’re unable to access existing programs, through no fault of their own.”
Current summer meals regulations require children to travel to a central location and eat together.
The Hunger-Free Summer for Kids Act, according to Blunt’s office, proposes two alternative options: One would allow for meals to be consumed offsite through mobile feeding or backpack meal programs, and the other would authorize the summer electronic benefit transfer program to give eligible families $30 per summer month per child to purchase food items.
The bill has the backing of several agencies working to end hunger. Feeding America, the largest hunger relief organization in the U.S., said in a statement that it “strongly” supports the bill.
It’s no secret that there is a lot of gridlock in Congress these days. Bipartisanship and compromise have eluded lawmakers on a number of major issues facing this country. But childhood hunger is an issue that we suspect everyone on Capitol Hill would say is worth addressing immediately.
This group of senators has done the right thing by introducing this legislation and bringing this subject to the forefront. The next step should be to pass the bill in both chambers of Congress — because no child should go hungry.