Prioritizing Child Nutrition Programs This Congress: Senate and House Advocacy Opportunities
House Action: Child Nutrition Reauthorization Moving Via the “Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act”
On July 27, the House Education and Labor Committee passed its 2022 Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill, the “Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act,” by a vote of 27-20. The bill now heads to the House Floor. Urge your House Members to press for a floor vote quickly to allow the reauthorization process to move this year. Time is running out in this Congress to pass legislation that will ensure that critical child nutrition programs are improved, strengthened, and expanded so that all children receive the nutrition they so desperately need.
For a closer look at the bill’s provisions, read FRAC’s full summary.
Use the recess period (now until after Labor Day) to meet with your Senators (especially those on the Senate Agriculture Committee) and urge them to take up the “Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act.” Meet with Senators and have them elevate their child nutrition priorities with Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR).
- Use the FRAC Action Network to urge your Senators to speak out and support critically important child nutrition priorities that are included in the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act, which was passed by the House Education and Labor Committee.
- Urge your House Members to speak up in support of the “Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act,” and urge consideration on the House floor this September. Time is running out to ensure that critical child nutrition programs are improved, strengthened, and expanded so that all children receive the nutrition they so desperately need.
Congress Passes Bipartisan, Bicameral Keep Kids Fed Act
On Friday, June 24, 2022, Congress passed the Keep Kids Fed Act (S. 2089), a bipartisan and bicameral bill to help mitigate the impact of the loss of the child nutrition waivers due to expire next Thursday, June 30, 2022. This bill is an important first step that would increase reimbursements to schools and child care centers, support access to summer meals, and streamline access to healthy meals for children in family child care. Learn more in this blog post.
FRAC’s 2022 Federal Nutrition Program Priorities
As part of the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference, FRAC compiled “Leave Behinds” or one-pagers outlining our legislative asks which you can share with your legislators. Explore the Leave Behinds: Child Nutrition Reauthorization 2022 Primer, Child Nutrition Reauthorization Priorities, Urgent Child Nutrition Priorities: Waivers, CEP, Summer EBT, Farm Bill Primer, and Farm Bill Priorities: Congress Must Protect and Strengthen SNAP and Other Anti-Hunger Programs.
The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) and nearly 2,000 national, state, and local organizations from every state across the country, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, signed a letter urging Congress to swiftly extend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) authority to issue nationwide waivers for the Child Nutrition Programs beyond the current waivers’ expiration date of June 30, 2022.
FRAC Applauds the House of Representatives for Passing Critical Child Nutrition and Anti-Poverty Provisions in the Build Back Better Act
Passing the Build Back Better Act is a critical next step in the right direction toward addressing the alarming rates of childhood hunger and poverty in this country. FRAC now urges the Senate to swiftly take up this legislation without delay. FRAC also urges Senate leaders to reject any amendments that could weaken the provisions that currently provide children with the nutrition they will need year-round as they overcome the educational, health, and economic impacts of the pandemic. Take action today.
Nearly 800 Organizations Urge Congressional Leaders to Pass Build Back Better (Reconciliation) Package
On September 29, nearly 800 national, state, and community-based organizations – from every state and the District of Columbia – joined together in a letter urging passage of the House Build Back Better Act. The letter emphatically states the need to protect the size, scope, and spending contained in the package, especially the child nutrition and anti-poverty provisions.
This is a critical time to act — a reduction in the package could severely reduce the effectiveness and impact of the anti-poverty provisions, including the child nutrition provisions.
The letter urges Congress to immediately pass the House Build Back Better Act. It also states that millions more low-income children will have access to nutritious school meals free of charge during the school year and summer EBT to purchase meals when school is out during the long summer break. In addition, children – across the country and in every community – depend on these nutritious meals now and as we emerge from the devastating impacts caused by the pandemic.
Take Action: Tag Your Members of Congress (Twitter handles here) and urge them to Support key anti-hunger provisions in the #BuildBackBetterAct.
On September 10, the House Education and Labor Committee completed its markup of the Build Back Better Act and advanced, by a vote of 28-22, nearly $35 billion in additional Child Nutrition Programs funding. These critical investments would ensure children have access to the nutrition they need year-round, and help families recover from the pandemic. As other House committees mark up their portion of the bill, deliberations on the overall reconciliation package continue with House and Senate Democratic leadership and Administration officials.
Take Action Now: Advocates are urged to contact their Members of Congress immediately to support the House Build Back Better Act, a historic investment in anti-poverty programs. It is critically important to reiterate the impact these provisions will have on children and families in the Member’s District/State. House and Senate champions must stay strong in protecting the overall package, especially anti-hunger and anti-poverty provisions. Members of Congress who are demanding a reduction in the size of the package must be held accountable and warned of the harmful consequences to the health and welfare of constituents back home. Learn more.
Budget Reconciliation 101
Curious about Budget Reconciliation? Unsure about the process or special rules to look out for? Explore this three-page report that explains what you need to know.
Food Research & Action Center’s Transition Recommendations: “This is the Time to Heal in America,” and It Begins With Addressing Hunger
FRAC’s transition recommendations provide a roadmap for the Biden-Harris Administration to address hunger in America. It sets forth the harms of food insecurity, summarizes the strengths of the federal nutrition programs, and concludes with high-priority recommendations for administrative and legislative asks that need to be taken to reduce hunger and poverty.
Sign Up for the FRAC Action Network!
Urge your Representatives to support and strengthen the Federal Nutrition Programs. Learn about the latest opportunities for action by signing up for the FRAC Action Network. Hungry people can’t wait.
Check Out the Bills We’re Supporting
As Congress begins the Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) process, find information on the current child nutrition bills, as well as others, on the Bills We’re Supporting page. And look for the latest CNR news and resources on the Child Nutrition Reauthorization page.
Recent Publications & DataSee More Resources
- Fact Sheet
The SNAP Excess Shelter Deduction allows households applying for SNAP to claim a variety of shelter costs related to housing (such as rent, property taxes, repair costs) and utilities when determining net income. Current federal law, however, places a limit on the amount of excess shelter costs that households can claim unless one of their members is 60 or older or has a disability.
Learn how the Shelter Cap exacerbates the squeeze many families already experience between food and shelter expenses in this national fact sheet.Read the fact sheet
- Interactive Data Tool
This interactive map provides household food insecurity rates, by state, on average over 2019-2021.Read more
- Fact Sheet
Many schools have found it more difficult to collect school meals applications during COVID-19, and this may be exacerbated as schools return to pre-pandemic operations. This toolkit shares outreach strategies and communication resources to help school districts and community partners ensure families return school meals applications.View the toolkit
In spring 2020, millions of students were either out of school or learning remotely. Pandemic EBT helped to fill the nutritional gap left by lack of access to school meals and had a large impact on addressing food insecurity.
FRAC’s latest Pandemic EBT report draws on a survey sent to all state Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program directors to highlight the critical importance of this program for children, families, and school nutrition programs. It then takes lessons learned reported by states to make policy recommendations for a permanent nationwide Summer EBT Program and identifies best practices to support the implementation.Read the report
The Pandemic EBT program was created to replace the free and reduced-price school meals that children lost access to due to school closures in the spring of 2020. Over time, the program has expanded to respond to the changing circumstances of the pandemic, children attending school under a hybrid model or COVID-19-related absences; to provide benefits to children under the age of 6 participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); to replace missed meals at child care; and to provide summer benefits. During the last two and a half years, this program has reached millions of children and provided billions of dollars in benefits to keep hungry children fed during a tumultuous time.
On September 8, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released guidance for school year 2022–2023 Pandemic EBT plans for both school-age students and children under 6 on SNAP. The guidance is similar to the guidance for school year 2021–2022, with a few key differences.
Food insecurity and malnutrition can contribute to health disparities as poor diet and lack of access to healthy foods drive health inequities. Malnutrition Awareness Week, September 19–23, 2022, is a prime opportunity to raise awareness about the more than 34.8 million people living in U.S. households struggling to put food on the table. While not everyone who is food insecure is malnourished or vice versa, food insecurity and malnutrition are related conditions that impact tens of millions of people. The term food insecurity means a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food, and malnutrition is considered a state of deficit, excess or imbalance in protein, energy or other nutrients that adversely affects an individual’s body form, function and clinical outcomes.
Families with low incomes face difficult challenges in affording basics, from food and medicine to child care and housing. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) accounts for some of the other expenses a household has when determining how much to provide in food benefits. However, undercutting the positive impact of the SNAP shelter deduction is an arbitrary “cap” on the excess shelter costs that most SNAP families with children are allowed to claim. Removing the shelter cap and easing the food and rent squeeze is long overdue.
The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) has created a fact sheet with more information about the shelter cap policy, the harm it causes SNAP households, and policy solutions to lift the cap.