April 25, 2022

From April 25–29, FRAC is celebrating Every Kid Healthy Week—spearheaded by Action for Healthy Kids—to spread awareness about children’s health and well-being.

Food security is one of the most important factors in determining the health of a child. It is more than just filling their bellies. Access to food supports healthy brain function, fuels children’s growing bodies and minds, and aids in emotional and social development.

At FRAC, we want all children to be healthy and have the food they need to grow and thrive. However, in 2020, 1 in 7  children in the United States lived in a household that reported not being able to buy enough food for their families. According to FRAC’s COVID-19 report, the pandemic further exacerbated existing disparities relating to food access for Black, Latino, and Native households, with  Black households (21.7 percent) and Latino households (17.2) experiencing food insecurity at least two to three times the rate of White households (7.1 percent).

Spotlight: Impact of Federal Nutrition Programs

Without the federal nutrition programs, childhood hunger in this country would be far worse.  This Every Kid Healthy Week, we are placing a spotlight on the federal nutrition programs, which ensure children and families have access to the food they need. Find resources to help advocate for investments in child nutrition programs and the Child Tax Credit and learn how to elevate programs such as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

  1. Child Nutrition Waivers
    The child nutrition waivers issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have provided school nutrition programs, local government agencies, and nonprofit organizations the flexibilities needed to feed children in the face of the numerous challenges created by the pandemic, and are needed as schools, families, and children recover from the impact of the pandemic. Without Congressional action, these waivers are set to expire on June 30.
    Learn more about the child nutrition priorities that should be included in the next piece of legislation passed by Congress, including Summer EBT, the child nutrition waivers, and the Community Eligibility Provision.
  2. Child Tax Credit
    The Child Tax Credit (CTC) expansion included in the American Rescue Plan addressed the root causes of hunger—most notably poverty—and racial disparities. From July to December 2021, the CTC expansion allowed for monthly CTC payments to families that provided a lifeline to put food on the table; pay housing expenses, debts, and childcare; and supplement lost wages due to the pandemic.
    Read FRAC’s primer on why the expanded Child Tax Credit is a transformational policy for addressing childhood hunger.
  3. WIC
    WIC protects and improves the health of families with young children up to 5 years old. Poor nutrition, poverty, and food insecurity have detrimental impacts on infant, child, and maternal health and well-being. Connecting patients to WIC is an evidence-based strategy to address these issues.
    Read FRAC’s WIC reports for healthcare providers, grandparents raising grandchildren, expanding fruits and vegetables, and more.
  4. Pandemic-EBT (PEBT)
    P-EBT provides nutrition resources on an EBT card to families who have lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to school or child care closures, including during the summer.
    Learn more about whether you’re eligible for P-EBT, and find tools for advocates at https://frac.org/pebt.
  5. SNAP
    SNAP plays a critical role in reducing hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. SNAP improves family security, child and adult health, employment, and other outcomes.
    Learn more about the Strengthen SNAP Agenda to address the imminent hunger cliff when HHS’s Pandemic Public Health Emergency Declaration (PHE) ends, in a blog post series by FRAC’s Ellen Vollinger and Andrew Cheyne.


Take Action: Hungry Children Can’t Wait

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of the federal nutrition programs in keeping hunger at bay for millions of children across the country. These programs also have been crucial to mitigating the economic, educational, and health impacts of the pandemic. The next legislative vehicle passed by Congress must ensure that children can access the healthy food they need through child nutrition programs.

Urge your members of Congress to pass legislation that extends the child nutrition waivers through September 2023, expands community eligibility, and creates a nationwide summer EBT program. Send an email or post on social media using the FRAC Action Network.