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Urge Congress to Increase Access to Child Nutrition Programs

It is time for Congress to authorize child nutrition programs. Millions of children who live in food insecure households rely on these programs for crucial nutrition needs. It is essential that these programs are funded so that children can get the support that they deserve.

Congress is currently considering– The Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 (HR 5003). This legislation makes no new significant investments in child nutrition programs while also implementing changes that will decrease access to essential programs.

Urge your  Representative to oppose The Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 (HR 5003)  by entering your zip code and information below:

Background on Child Nutrition Programs

According to 2014 data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), over 47 million Americans live in a household that faces difficulty affording enough food. One in five, or 15.3 million of these household members, are children. Food insecurity exists nationwide and has major impacts on children - previous USDA studies have shown that children who live in food-insecure households have increased risks of developmental and health problems. Studies also link growing up in poverty to obesity later on in life, further demonstrating how important it is for us to ensure that children will not go hungry.

That is why it is crucial that Congress reauthorizes the Child Nutrition and WIC programs. This law includes the National Lunch and School Breakfast Programs ensuring that children receive healthy meals during the school days, the Summer Food Service Program giving students access to foods during the summer, the Afterschool Snack and Meal Program supplying young people with snacks in nonprofit and public organizations, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program providing snacks during the school day, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) providing nutrition assistance and health care to low income pregnant women, new mothers, and young children.

Currently only 1 in every 6 students who receives free and reduce priced meals receives meals over the summer. There have been many proposals to try to close this “meal gap” and it is now up to ensure that they do everything possible to expand access to these meals during the summer and to make distribution sites accessible and safe. This legislation will also increase the age of WIC eligibility to age 6 ensuring that young children eat healthy food at an essential stage of their development.

The Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 raises the threshold for the Community Eligbility Provision, eliminating universal breakfast and lunch to over 7,000 currently eligibile school districts. This legislation makes no significant new improvements in the WIC program or summer meals. Finally, the legislation increases the number of applications that must be verificed for nutrition programs, increasing the likelihood that eligible children could lose access to these essential meals.

As Congress continues to work on reauthorizing child nutrition programs, the final bill should include:
  • Increased funding to Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children
  • Increased funding for Summer Meal Programs that help eliminate the Summer meal gap
  • Maintain the 40% threshold for the Community Eligibility Provision to maintain sufficient access to school lunch programs and provide dignity to those students who qualify for free and reduced price meals.
  • No new verification standards that decrease access for some children to essential nutrition programs 

Jewish Values and hunger:

Too many Americans struggle with hunger year-round. The Torah and Jewish tradition are explicit in the command that we feed the hungry and help eradicate hunger from our society. Leviticus 23:22 tells us, "And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger. I the Eternal am your God." In Isaiah 58:7, God commands us to "share [our] bread with the hungry and bring the homeless into [our] house." The Jewish tradition mandates us not just to act individually to end hunger, but as a community. The Talmud explains that each Jewish community must establish a public fund to provide food for the hungry, and our sages explain that feeding the hungry is one of our most important responsibilities on earth: "When you are asked in the world to come, ‘What was your work?’ and you answer: ‘I fed the hungry,’ you will be told: ‘This is the gate of the Lord, enter into it, you who have fed the hungry’" (Midrash to Psalm 118:17).

Take Action:

In addition to sending an email through our action alert above, you can call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Tyler Dratch at 202.387.2800.